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Consumers Plan to Spend on Entertainment and Looking Good

shopping-carts-ecommerce-11091902 Credit: Dreamstime.com

Despite continuing economic uncertainty, 21 percent of Americans plan to spend more on nonessential items in the second half of 2011, according to American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Another 43 percent expect to spend the same amount in the next six months compared to the first half of 2011. Greater consumer spending will be led by young professionals, with 41 percent intending to spend more in the second half of 2011 than they did last year.

Those surveyed said their expenses will fall into the following categories:

Entertainment (91 percent)
Grooming (88 percent)
Clothing (86 percent)
Electronics (67 percent)

Forty-three percent of Americans also plan to make a large purchase by the end of the year, according to the survey. Those purchases include:

TV (16 percent)
Automobile (15 percent)
Furniture (14 percent)
End-of-year getaway (12 percent)
Household appliance (10 percent)

While most will spend an average of $1,800 on their most expensive purchase, affluent consumers expect to spend an average of $2,800 before the end of the year.

All this spending seems to reflect a brighter mood among American consumers . More than two-thirds of Americans say their financial outlook over the next six months is more or just as stable versus one year ago. And, 69 percent of employed Americans feel more or equal job stability this year compared to 2010, the study found.

"Many consumers — especially those out of work — are facing very tough times," said Pamela Codispoti, executive vice president and general manager of consumer card services at American Express. "So it's encouraging to see that those fortunate enough to be employed are experiencing feelings of greater job and financial security and are doing their part to stimulate the economy."

Spending breakdown

The statistics show that Americans plan to spend more on entertainment than any other form of discretionary spending. That spending breaks down to:

Dining out (65 percent)
Watching TV or movies at home (via cable TV, Netflix, etc.) (62 percent)
Enjoying wine, beer or other spirits (51 percent)

The survey also reveals that the vast majority (93 percent) of young professionals are especially motivated to spend on fall fashion this year. Dressing for success is critical for this demographic as they look toward career advancement and many will buy clothes for work over the next six months (62 percent).

Technology is also high on the spending list, with more than two-thirds (67 percent) of consumers planning to make a technology purchase in the next six months. Topping these consumers' shopping lists are:

  • Computer/computer accessories (36 percent)
  • Mobile/smartphone (34 percent)
  • Video games/gaming device (21 percent)

Cut-back compromises

While the majority of Americans are planning to spend more or the same over the next six months versus the last six months, those that plan to spend less (31 percent) are finding ways to cut back. Their top saving strategies include:

  • Eating at home versus dining out (81 percent)
  • Making better use of the clothes in their closet (55 percent)
  • Movie night at home instead of the theater (46 percent)
  • Purchasing less expensive beauty products (42 percent)
  • Waiting longer between salon/barber visits (37 percent)

Most Americans redeem coupons in-store (68 percent), but some are taking advantage of the proliferation of online discount and coupon services to save money this year, with 10 percent using most coupons online. The preferred place to go to look for discounts and coupons for favorite brands/stores is Groupon (15 percent) and Facebook (12 percent). More than a third of these consumers visit their preferred sources at least once daily to find discounts for their favorite brands and services. How I Turned My Passion into a Business