Small businesses in the U.S. are continuing to demonstrate optimism about the future, according to results of the latest Dun & Bradstreet and Pepperdine Private Capital Access Index.
A new survey has found 68% of mobile payment users report that they are using the alternative payment methods more than last year and 87% of consumers surveyed think merchant-specific gift cards are convenient to use, even higher than bank-connected debit cards (82%).
More than half of holiday shoppers expect to shell out the same amount on gifts as they did last year. Fourteen percent expect to spend more, while 30% say they’re cutting back this holiday season.
Consumers’ confidence was up in January thanks in great part to perceived improving U.S. economy and personal finances as the Discover U.S. “Spending Monitor was up 5.6 points to 93.1. This being the highest level of confidence since November 2007, the number of consumers rating the economy as good or excellent hit 10%, compared with 9% in December, while 51% still rate the economy as poor, down 5 points from December, and 37% rate the economy as fair, up 3 points from December. Overall, 33% feel economic conditions are getting better; 40% feel the economy is getting worse-down 4 points since December; and 22% feel economic conditions are unchanged. Among middle-income consumers, 50% currently rate the economy as poor; 32% feel the economy is getting better, a 7-point increase from December; 38% rate their finances as good or excellent; 40% feel their finances are getting worse; and 35% of all consumers anticipate an added expense or income shortfall in the month ahead.
Business owners are looking at a later retirement with 69% not planning to retire or cut back on work until age 65 or older reflecting a 17% increase since December â07 and a 28% increase over September â05. Meanwhile, those planning to retire before 60 decreased to 21% from 27% and those anticipating retiring before age 60 decreased to 11% from 21% in December â07. This, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup “Small Business Index,” also shows 62% of business owners surveyed indicated that they made changes to their retirement strategy as a result of the economic downturn; 68% are worried about not being able to build back retirement savings lost during the recent economic downturn; and 63% are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably when they retire, compared to 79% in 2007. Small businesses account for most new hires and for 99.7% of all U.S. employers.
Among small businesses, 48% are planning to make capital investments in their businesses this spring, up from 42% last fall and nearing spring 2008 levels of 53%. Meanwhile, small businesses that see the current economic climate negatively affecting business prospects rose from 24% six months ago to 29% and the number of entrepreneurs who see the economy improving with expanding opportunities for their businesses fell from 26% last fall to 18%. Among entrepreneurs ages 19 â 29, 72% are optimistic about their business prospects and the economy. Additionally, according to the American Express “OPEN Small Business Monitor,” 28% overall plan to hire, up from 23% in the fall of 2009. Also, 58% of businesses said they were âstaying afloat,â and 21% described their firms as âsinking ships.â However, an additional 21% said either the economy had not adversely affected their companies or they have grown in the rough economy.
Equifax has launched “Debt Wise” which uses information from
the “Equifax Credit Report” to enable consumers to create a plan for
paying off their debt faster. The average subscriber can save over $30,000 in
interest and get out of debt 15 years quicker by following their Fast
Pay Plan. For less than $.50 per day, Debt Wise subscribers can create a personal
debt payment plan online in as little as 10 minutes, in the privacy and
comfort of their own home and receive access to highly rated, user
ranked features like “Monthly Progress Alerts” that help subscribers know if they are on
or off plan and when an account is paid off; “Credit Monitoring” and alerts within 24 hours of key changes to
their Equifax credit file; “Fast Pay Plan Wizard” that makes setting up a plan simple,
straightforward and flexible by automatically importing debts from the
“Equifax Credit Report” and enabling subscribers to decide which debts to
include in their payment plan; 4 FICO Scores every 12 months so subscribers can check their
credit score, as it may change over time; “Commitment Calculator” tool to simulate how paying additional
amounts towards debts could accelerate one’s debt freedom date; “Spend Smart Tools” that provide ideas on ways to save money and
spend wisely and “Identity Theft Insurance” of up to $25,000 with no deductible.
A new poll finds that 63% of Americans surveyed said the way they spend and save has been forever changed as a result of the economic downturn. Only 29% said spending and saving would go back to the way it was before the recession. The survey from Citi also revealed that 61% will continue to cut down on credit card purchases. Fifty-nine percent will continue to cut back on everyday expenses; 60% will continue to save and invest more; 63% will continue to reduce the amount of money they owe. Also, 68% of African Americans and 66% of Hispanics have cut down on credit card purchases (compared to 62% of the national sample).
Additionally, Citi found that those who earn less than $50,000 were most likely to cut back on everyday expenses (80%), followed by 76% for those who earn $50,000 – $75,000. But even at the top of the income scale, people are making adjustments and cutting back on everyday expenses â 70% for those who earn more than $150,000 and 68% for those who earn $75,000 – $150,000.
Visa Inc.’s latest report, “Tourism Outlook: USA”, concludes U.S.
tourism is running strong with $53 billion Visa tourism dollars
generated by international visitors. Data shows U.S. Visa cardholders
who visited Canada contributed $5.5 billion to tourism revenues in 2008,
up 2% from the year prior, having spent an average of US$113.80 per
person. Canadian travelers to the U.S., however, spent $15.3 billion on
their Visa cards in 2008, up 19% from the year prior, as the number one
contributors to inbound tourism revenue. Canadian revenue contribution
to U.S. tourism was followed by visitors from United Kingdom with $4.7
billion, Japan with $3.1 million and Mexico with $2.5 billion.
Additional findings show only 25% of those surveyed are less willing to
travel because of the socio-economic climate and 23% are more likely to
travel internationally. However, 83% may adjust international travel
plans with 52% opting to travel during off-peak seasons while 33% are
choosing destinations with lower cost. The most popular forms of payment
while traveling, in order, are credit cards (55%) and cash (20%), either
chosen for convenience (69%), security (53%) and ease of access to funds
(46%). The Visa international tourism survey of 5,539 adult consumers
was conducted online while the Visa Inc retail electronic payments
network is present in more than 170 countries.
Last year, international visitors to Canada spent more than $9 billion
on their Visa-branded payment cards, contributing to Canada’s tourism
economy, which represents approximately two percent of Canada’s overall
GDP. Visa card spending by international visitors in Canada increased
from US$8.7 billion in 2007, with U.S. cardholders contributing more
than half of the total. Visitors from Western Europe, Asia and Australia
accounted for an additional 23% of Visa card spending. Visitors from
the United States continue to be the largest contributors
to tourism revenues. According to the Visa tourism survey, 60% of
U.S. respondents have visited Canada at least once, compared to 19% of
all respondents. In 2008, U.S. visitors spent $5.47 billion
on Visa cards while visiting Canada. Other top contributors to Canada
inbound tourism spending in 2008 include: United Kingdom ($603 million);
France ($351 million); Australia ($223 million); and Japan ($204
million). General retail purchases, such as clothing and food,
represented 41% of Visa transactions by international travelers visiting
in 2008, totaling more than $3.7 billion, an increase of more than 7%
from the previous year. Other major segments include lodging
($1.1 billion), airlines ($628 million) and restaurants ($467 million).
Survey results from Visa indicate that 62% of Americans plan to
hold a Super Bowl party and expect to spend an average of $172 on the
festivities. Washington, D.C. (71%), Pittsburgh, PA (70%) and San
Antonio, TX (70%) topped the list of areas with the highest number of
respondents saying they will host Super Bowl parties, while San
Francisco, CA (58%), New York City (57%) and the state of Vermont (52%)
represent areas of the country with the fewest number of respondents
holding a celebration. Visa, the NFL and NFL PLAYERS have created an
educational video game called “Financial Football” which can be played
online for free at www.financialfootball.com. Visa has reached
agreements with nineteen state governments to donate
the “Financial Football” game and accompanying financial education
curriculum to every high school in those states.
American Express ranked as the “Most Trusted Company for 2008” for
privacy for the second consecutive year.Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe
asked 6,486 adult-aged U.S. consumers which companies they thought were
most trustworthy and which did the best job safeguarding personal
information. A total of 706 companies were named by consumers; 211 made
the final list of most trusted companies. eBay earned a ranking as the
second most trusted company, while IBM, Amazon, and Johnson & Johnson
rounded out the top five. Among credit card issuers making the top
rankings: USAA #11 and U.S. Bank #19. The survey also found that
consumers feel they are losing control of personal information. Only 45%
of consumers feel they have control over their personal information,
down from 56% in 2006. Sixty-two percent of consumers believe that
identity theft most saliently affects their perceptions about a
company’s privacy, while 53% named data breach notification and 42%
cited annoying background chatter in a public venue.