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28 Oct, 2012

Lifestyle Index Points to Steady Increase in U.S. Consumer Spending


October 24, 2012, WILMINGTON, Del.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Chase today released the third quarter (Q3) 2012 findings of the Chase Freedom Lifestyle Index, a quarterly barometer of consumer trends based on aggregated Chase Freedom cardholder spending data. According to the Chase Freedom Lifestyle Index, overall cardholder spending increased 4 percent in Q3 of 2012, compared to the same quarter in 2011. Spending was strong across the majority of categories, with solid increases in food, back-to-school, and outdoor/leisure expenditures.

“Consumers are slowly beginning to open their wallets, based on the steady increases in spending we are witnessing,” said Phil Christian, general manager, Chase Freedom. “The overall trends suggest that consumers are increasing discretionary entertainment and leisure spending on a year-over-year basis, which is a good sign from an economic recovery perspective. As we enter into the holiday season, we believe the current spending trends point to what is likely to be a strong holiday shopping season in the fourth quarter.”

On a quarter-over-quarter basis, overall spending went up by 1 percent in Q3 2012, following a sharp increase (9 percent) from Q1 to Q2, underscoring a continued upward trend since Q2 2012.

Back-to-school shopping

Chase Freedom Lifestyle Index data pointed to a healthy back-to-school shopping season, with combined spending on apparel/clothing, books, and museums increasing 6 percent in Q3 2012, compared to the same quarter in 2011.

Eating out

Chase Freedom cardholders spent 22 percent more in fast food in Q3 2012, compared to Q3 2011. Restaurant spending was nearly as strong, with a 19 percent year-over-year increase.

Outdoors, sports, and entertainment

Spending on outdoor and leisure activities recorded an overall 8 percent increase, with Chase Freedom cardholders spending 8 and 9 percent more at recreational facilities and on sporting goods, respectively, in Q3 2012, compared to the same quarter in 2011.

Spending on consumer electronics witnessed an 8 percent increase in Q3 2012, compared to the second quarter—despite a 5 percent decrease compared to Q3 2011.

Additionally, theme park spending increased 19 percent on a quarter-over-quarter basis, although year-over-year spending went up by only 1 percent.

Americans on the road

Finally, while Chase Freedom cardholders spent less on car rentals and gas on a year-over-year basis, quarter-over-quarter comparisons pointed to double digit increases—13 percent for gas and 19 percent for car rentals.

These quarter-over-quarter increases are likely indicative of a continued summer road trip trend, which started in Q2 2012 when the Index witnessed a 15 percent increase in car rentals and 2 percent increase in gas, compared to Q1 of 2012.

“While spending in individual categories may vary slightly on a quarter-over-quarter versus a year-over-year basis, overall, we see what may be called a slow, but steady awakening of the American consumer,” stated Christian. “This sentiment is supported by a number of recent economic indicators that point to a strengthening recovery, as well as the economic optimism reflected in the Chase Pulse of the Consumer Survey, released last month.

Chase Freedom cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases at Best Buy, Kohl’s, and directly with airlines and hotels for rooms from October through December 2012. Customers can activate 5 percent cash back online, over the phone, via text message, on Facebook or at one of Chase’s more than 5,500 branches.

For more information, visit Chase Freedom’s website or Facebook page.

Third Quarter Chase Freedom Lifestyle Index – Data Tables

      Q3 2012 vs. Q3 2011     Q3 2012 vs. Q2 2012
Books 9%     16%
Car rentals -5%     19%
Clothing/apparel 5%     0%
Consumer electronics -5%     8%
Fast Food 22%     12%
Gas -1%     13%
Museums 8%     19%
Restaurants 19%     16%
Recreation Facilities 8%     1%
Sporting Goods 9%     4%
Theme parks 1%     19%

About Chase

Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM). More information www.chase.com.