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Consumers Still Willing to Spend to Get What They Want

Times may be tough, but business owners can take heart. There’s still certain things a lot of people aren’t willing to live without.

Although some young professionals and affluent consumers say they want to spend less, don’t expect them to hold off on indulging in guilty pleasures such as food at fancy restaurants, electronics, fashion items or sports tickets and apparel, a new American Express survey finds.

And many shoppers don’t feel guilty about these purchases, either.

Of those surveyed, 68 percent said they haven’t decreased spending on things in which they are most passionate, reveals the latest American Express Spending and Saving Tracker.

“Americans are placing their passions high on their list of spending priorities, while continuing to manage to balance their budgets,” said Pamela Codispoti, executive vice president and general manager Consumer Card Products at American Express.

Almost half of the respondents who purchase food, sports and technology items said they never feel guilty and enjoy buying their “passion” products. But just 34 percent of those who spend on clothing and fashion accessories felt the same way.

“This is encouraging news as concerns rise about whether the economy is stabilizing,” Codispoti said in a statement.

Continuing a trend that began when the economy first soured, some consumers desire to cut back on overall spending. However, the number who say they want or need to cut back is fewer this September compared with the same month last year. This year, only 30 percent said they wanted to cut back as compared to 40 percent last year.

More than half of the respondents said the primary reason they are spending less is to save money. Last year, the top reason was to pay monthly bills.

“Consistent with rising national savings rate, consumers are now prioritizing saving above reducing debt compared to last year,” Codispoti said. “That may be due to the fact that some people have made headway in bringing their debt levels down.”

To gather the results, researchers in August surveyed 2,025 consumers from two groups: the affluent with household incomes of at least $100,000 and young professionals under 30 with college educations and household incomes of more than $50,000.