Financial experts and economists have been suggesting that the U.S. economy is in recovery, and now the proof may be in the numbers. American consumers have been making more timely payments to their credit card issuers. In February, the number of delinquent and charged off credit loans and accounts were down. In addition to making their payments on time, consumers are still spending less, which in turn means that credit card companies are earning less money. Have consumers finally learned to live within their means, or is this a temporary trend?
Financial recovery in the works?
Credit Card Spending
The February data for credit card and other consuming spending is not out yet. You can, however, make some observations from January data. For example, credit card balances declined by $4.25 billion in January. This was a 4% decrease when comparing it to the $2.02 increase in spending that took place in December of 2010. Most financial experts attribute the December increase to holiday shopping, however this was the first month that spending had increased since the summer of 2008.
Expectations for spending in February are an increase in consumer spending, especially in the retail sector. The increase is relatively small, only about 1%. When it comes to spending on other types of purchases, though, spending is up in a big way and expected to continue that way.
Types of Purchases
The types of spending consumers seem to be gravitating to is on big-ticket items such as vehicles, boats and vacations. Hybrid vehicle purchases on the Toyota Prius increased by 69.9% in February. Overall, auto sales are up 17%. As consumers search for ways to cut back on gas consumption and to save money at the pump in the process, an increase in purchases of hybrid and good gas mileage vehicles is expected to continue.
Whether or not the U.S. economy is in full recovery mode is yet to be seem. In the meantime, there are some positive signs that this is the case. A decrease in delinquent credit card payments and charge off accounts and an increase in consumer spending are all symptoms that suggest the financial crisis is coming to an end.