With U.S. retail sales falling 0.4 percent in December and the economy teetering on what many experts indicate may be the brink of recession, TransUnion’s TrueCredit.com commissioned GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media for a third annual post-holiday survey about American consumer credit usage. Forty-two percent of consumers report purchasing less through the use of credit this holiday season than last year, a marked increase from the 35 percent reported in the 2007 vs. 2006 survey. Thirty percent say they purchased the same amount using credit as in the previous year, down from 37 percent in 2007. Only 11 percent indicated they purchased more, as compared with 14 percent the year prior.
“This past fall, many consumers told us they’d likely postpone a major purchase in 2008, and the conservative use of credit we found over this holiday season seems consistent with that long range intent,” said Lucy Duni, director of Consumer Education for TransUnion’s TrueCredit.com. “It follows that if you were concerned about your finances going into the holidays, the last thing you want to see are bigger credit card bills hitting your mailbox in January and February.”
Credit Card Debt Levels and the Year Ahead
Separately, when asked how much credit card debt they have this January as compared to last year at this time, 44 percent of consumers report the same and 29 percent report less. These figures are virtually unchanged from a year prior at 43 percent and 29 percent, respectively. “While many consumers were still able to tap home equity during 2007, we may see more turning to credit cards to finance a lifestyle in 2008,” noted Duni. “For people in this situation, it’s particularly important to realize that maintaining a good credit score requires understanding how a lender will weigh the financial actions you take today when you seek credit tomorrow.”
GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media conducted these studies using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methodology. From January 4 to January 6, 2008 a total of 1,004 interviews were conducted among adults across America. Age, gender, income and geographic information were collected. The margin of error for the complete sample is Â± 3 percentage points. The margin of error for subgroups may be higher.
Since 1999, TransUnion’s TrueCredit.com has helped millions of consumers manage their own credit health. Through a suite of educational materials, free monthly newsletters and easy-to-use products, the company helps consumers understand personal credit management and empowers them to achieve greater financial well-being. TrueCredit.com’s online products include credit reports, credit and insurance scores, credit monitoring, debt management tools and identity theft insurance services. Chicago-based TrueCredit.com is the direct-to-consumer arm of TransUnion Interactive, a subsidiary of TransUnion, a global leader in credit and information management. Manage your credit. Manage your life(SM). http://www.truecredit.com
For more information or to schedule an interview with Lucy Duni, contact Steven Katz, TransUnion, at 312.985.2373 ([email protected]) or Zachary Hastings Hooper, The Rosen Group, at 202.862.4355 ([email protected]).