Americans are cutting back their spending but not abandoning favorite summertime pursuits despite the extra expense, a new survey released Wednesday indicates.
Consumers responding to a poll conducted for Chase Card Services signaled their intention to still spend significantly this summer on things like new barbecue grills, pool memberships, golf clubs and regular vacations even as the recession continues.
Many people plan to trim spending in other areas in order to pay for those items, taking care of their own lawns more than in the past, turning the air conditioning down and tackling repair jobs on their own, according to the survey.
"Consumers are reducing spending in certain areas and saving in others to enjoy the true values of summer," said Joe Venuti, general manager of Chase Card Services, a division of JPMorgan Chase & Co. "They're being a little more mindful about where they do spend, but they're not locking themselves up at home."
Results of the survey, conducted by Braun Research, were based on telephone interviews with 1,004 adults nationwide from April 28 to May 3 and carry a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
They reflect a mixture of modest cutbacks and "life as usual" attitude as respondents looked toward a second consecutive summer in recession.
_ 50 percent of respondents said they still planned to spend on summer discretionary purchases such as barbecues and pool memberships, versus 23 percent who were cutting back.
_ 15 percent said they were planning to cut back on summer activities such as summer camp or Little League, while four times as many said they would not.
_ 37 percent said they were reducing typical summer utility spending like using less electric air conditioning.
_ 26 percent said they were doing more home repairs and cleaning on their own instead of hiring help.
_ 29 percent said they were skipping a typical summer vacation or lengthy outing; 49 percent said they were not.
_ 28 percent said they were planning a vacation closer to home to cut costs.
The responses reflect something of a return to traditional summer values, according to Venuti. The fact consumers are reining in spending but still going ahead with classic summer pursuits, he maintained, is "a good indication that the economy may be turning the corner."
Chase Card Services also conducted its own consumer research which found that economic concerns about personal finances significantly eased from 83 percent of those surveyed in January to 72 percent of those surveyed in May. Pessimism about the economy for the next three months fell to half the level of January, and two-thirds of respondents to the most recent round of questioning in May said the outlook for the year was now looking up.