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Coming Soon: MasterCard Revisits the State of the American Consumer

Nitin Sumangali |

Month by month, quarter by quarter, and year by year there are reams of data produced about the American consumer’s financial picture that point in every direction and seemingly have no consistency. But it’s potentially a mistake to view the numbers this way.

Individual data points (savings rates, housing starts, spending levels) may in isolation tell disparate stories; by examining the trends over years, MasterCard has been able to contextualize the reality of consumer attitudes and eliminate the noise; in other words, render those attitudes congruent with the evident behaviors. By revisiting the topic annually (a new version of the report will be coming soon), MasterCard has established a baseline from which to compare the changing spending habits of American consumers. While the story is one of slow but steady improvement, only by isolating the consumer attitudes behind the numbers can the reason behind the improvement become evident.

The environment in 2013 is very different from that of early 2009, and according to MasterCard’s proprietary consumer research conducted for this study, consumers report less fear and insecurity about their financial situation and more confidence, especially in managing their money.

MasterCard’s proprietary consumer research shows that a total of 62 percent of consumers in 2008 reported that they were cutting down on purchases they make, but by 2012 that number was down to 54 percent. At the same time, 66 percent of consumers were worried about what the future would bring in 2008, and in 2012 that number was only 58 percent. Meanwhile, 38 percent fear they won’t be able to retire, down 3 percentage points from 2008, and 27 percent feel their life is more out of control today than it was six months ago, down 12 percentage points from 2008.

Stay tuned for the new version of the annual study that will provide a more expanded look at the U.S. consumer situation.

Topics: Credit, Debit/Prepaid, Economic Outlook, Payments Strategy

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