Did you hear?... National survey indicates consumer optimism

Consumer optimism and comfort levels edged out financial insecurity and worries about the recession, layoffs and Osama bin Laden, according to a national survey of 1,000 Americans released on April 11.
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Consumer optimism and comfort levels edged out financial insecurity and worries about the recession, layoffs and Osama bin Laden, according to a national survey of 1,000 Americans released on April 11. The independent study commissioned by AmeriCredit Corp., and conducted by Market Facts, Inc., a national research firm, reveals that approximately four out of five Americans expect their spending habits will return to normal within a year. Nearly half of those surveyed say they already are back to normal spending. Despite widespread preoccupation with the war in Afghanistan, Americans expressed less concern with the capture of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (16 percent) than seeing a clear end to the recession (32 percent) and an end to large numbers of layoffs (25 percent). According to the survey, 81 percent of Americans see a return to normal spending patterns within the next year. Some 14 percent believe their spending habits will be back to normal within three months. Nearly half (43 percent) of Americans insist they have allayed fears of further financial setbacks and have already resumed normal spending. Attitudes were relatively consistent across major demographic breakdowns, including gender, age, household income and marital status. In a regional breakdown, Midwesterners were most bullish, with 50 percent reporting their spending already is back to normal. The figure was 42 percent in the South, 40 percent in the West and 40 percent in the Northeast. Bucking conventional wisdom, the survey indicated that an overwhelming majority of Americans -- 81 percent -- believe they are currently in control of their financial future. Young people age 18 to 24 feel most in control, followed by Baby Boomers in the 45-to-54-age bracket. Asked about major spending plans postponed during the past year, respondents listed in order of importance: home improvements, vacation plans, electronic or computer purchases, elective dental or medical procedures and automobile purchases. American consumers listed the following major spending plans for 2002, in order of importance: vacations (23 percent), home improvements (22 percent) and automobile purchases (10 percent). The independent survey of 1,000 Americans has a confidence factor of +/- 5 percent.

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