Consumers continued to cut back on discretionary spending last month, according to a Discover (DFS) - Get Discover Financial Services Report survey, as they fretted about the state of the economy and their own fiscal health.
Discover said Tuesday that 84% of consumers spent the same or more in July as they did in June, with 83% expecting to spend the same or more in August. Respondents cut back on items that were not necessities, including entertainment, home improvement and other savings and investment purchases. More than 69% have cut back on entertainment spending, while 62% have changed vacation plans.
Americans have been battling high costs for food and fuel throughout most of the year. However, fuel prices began to decline in mid-July, which has provided some needed assistance for struggling consumers and may lessen inflation across the board. Still, declining values of homes and investment portfolios have also taken a toll on spending and their view of personal finances.
"Consumers are facing a headwind from several directions," says Margo Georgiadis, chief marketing officer of the credit-card company, "since it is unlikely that gas prices will return to last year's levels, home values are still declining and the stock market has been bearish."
Despite those trends, the number of consumers who said they had money left over after paying monthly bills increased for the sixth month in a row. Nearly 53% reported such a cash cushion at the end of July.