First Place Consumers Say They’ll Put Extra Money? The Bank

Lingering concerns about the economy

September 13, 2017

Consumer confidence rose in the first half of 2017, reflecting improving sentiment about job prospects and personal finances. As a result, consumers are indicating a growing willingness to open up their wallets and spend some of their spare cash.

But the first place they plan to put that spare cash is into savings, Nielsen found in its latest global consumer confidence survey.

In Q2 2017, the study found that 52% of internet users surveyed in 63 countries around the world said they would put spare cash in savings. That was up slightly from the 50% who said so in Q4 2016.

The second most common choice was to use money for vacations, at 43%, up 5 percentage points from Q4 2016.

In third was the purchase of new clothes, up 4 percentage points to 39%.

The survey results align with a variety of data—particularly in the US—indicating a continued focus on shoring up personal finances and spending on experiences, rather than physical goods.

Both tendencies reflect the long shadow of the global financial crisis, even 10 years later. In the hangover of the downturn, consumers in many markets became focused on building up savings rather than taking on new debt or accumulating additional possessions. 

An April 2017 survey by Gallup found that 63% of US consumers said they enjoyed saving more than spending, compared with 35% who said they preferred spending. Looking back to poll data from 2005 and 2006, Gallup said the tendencies were reversed before the financial crisis, when 46% said they preferred saving and 50% preferred spending.

Meanwhile, a global survey by GfK published in May found that consumers in the US and many other markets expressed the opinion that experiences are more important than physical belongings.