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2012: The Year to Decorate and Dash

Americans Plan To Spend More On Sprucing Up Their Homes And Seeing The Sites

NEW YORK, January 12, 2012 -Fifty-six percent of Americans expect to spend more or the same this year as they did in 2011 according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Consumers say they expect to spend more on in-home decorating, travel, remodeling/home improvements and health & fitness. Over a third (35%) say they are optimistic about their finances and most have set benchmarks to help meet their 2012 financial goals (87% vs. 83% in 2011).

For the full data report, and past Spending & Saving Tracker results, click here.

Decorate and Dash?

Americans say they plan to spend more this year on sprucing up their homes, but they also plan to invest more in leaving them. Most leisure travelers (77%) will fly to their destination and 27% say they'll be on a plane more often than last year. Virtually all Young Professional leisure travelers will fly to their destination this year (94%). Nearly half (48%) say they will fly more often than last.

Half of all Americans plan to travel within the 50 states, 22% will venture abroad, 41% will choose a beach vacation to soak in the sun and 20% will hit the high-seas by taking a cruise.

"The survey suggests good news for the travel industry," said Claire Bennett, Senior Vice President and General Manager of American Express Travel. "Consumers are planning to invest more in travel and nearly a quarter are setting aside a separate travel budget to help them meet their 2012 travel goals."

Consumers say they will also continue to use credit or charge card rewards points to help pay for travel, with more than half (54%) planning to do so in 2012.

Overall Savings Estimates are Up and Young Professionals Expect Bonus Boost

While the economic outlook remains uncertain, 35% of Americans say they are optimistic about their finances in the year ahead. This optimism is reflected in what they hope to save -- approximately three times as much as last year, or an average of $7,633 vs. the $2,632 estimated at the start of 2011.

Most Americans are not counting on a bonus this year, but a fortunate 31% say they have received, or expect to receive, a bonus for the work they did in 2011. More than one in four (28%) say this bonus is more than last year. But the bonus pool seems to favor Young Professionals. Sixty-four percent of Young Professionals are expecting (or have received) a bonus from their employer for 2011 work. Over half (51%) say it is more than they received last year.

Some consumers are planning to use their bonus to pay down debt (29%), but an equal number say they are going to spend it. A quarter of bonus-receivers will save it (26%), while 11% will invest the extra funds or allocate it in some other way (5%).

Personal Priorities Still Reign

2012 won't just be about decorating and traveling, many consumers are still making time and allotting funds for personal priorities. Americans say they will spend the same or more on grooming (75% vs. 73% in 2011), as well as health/fitness (76% vs. 70% in 2011). An increased number of consumers seem to have committed to one of the most popular (and difficult to keep) resolutions: getting in shape. More plan to spend on a monthly gym membership (22% vs. 17% in 2011) and 92% of them say they are prepared to spend more or the same as they did last year. Additionally, consumers will also spend more on gym equipment expenses (15% vs. 8% in 2011).

About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 2,000 adults, including the general U.S. population, as well as two sub-groups – the Affluent₂ and Young Professionals₃. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between December 27 and December 30, 2011. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. For access to previous American Express Spending & Saver Tracker results, please visit http://inr.synapticdigital.com/americanexpress/spendsave/

₂ Affluent – defined as having a minimum annual household income of $100,000.

₃ Young Professionals – defined as less than 30 years of age, having a college degree, and a minimum household income of $50,000.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at www.americanexpress.com and connect with us on www.facebook.com/americanexpress, www.twitter.com/americanexpress and www.youtube.com/americanexpress.