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Consumers increased retail spending in September

Nov 04, 2013 Philip Burgess

Americans have had a rocky past couple of months, but that didn't stop them from spending more money at retailers in September.

Excluding auto purchases, retail sales increased 0.4 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Two of the major factors that enabled consumers to increase expenditures were higher home and stock prices.

"Consumers continue to hold in despite all the uncertainty going into the shutdown," Millan Mulraine, director of U.S. rates research at TD Securities USA told Bloomberg. "We ended the quarter on a fairly solid note. Whether this buoyancy can be sustained remains a question after the hit to consumer confidence from the shutdown."

With recent uncertainty due to the turmoil in Washington, consumers who spent more in September might have opened themselves up to financial troubles in the near future - especially if an unexpected expense arises. For this reason, short term lending demand could increase.

Spending may rise further with holiday season coming up
Increases could continue in the final three months of the year, as consumers begin to buy gifts for friends and family members for the upcoming holidays. According to Price Grabber's Winter Holiday Shopping Survey, 23 percent of Americans said they would spend more on holiday purchases this year, up by 11 percentage points from 2012.

Two-thirds of shoppers expect retailers to offer better prices and discounts this year, which could draw more buyers to stores and help cancel out the negative impact of the government shutdown.

"Our survey found that the current state of the economy continues to lurk in the minds of consumers, and shoppers expect deeper discounts this holiday season," said Rojeh Avanesian, SVP of Marketing and Sales of PriceGrabber. "The U.S. fiscal concerns could play a pivotal role in consumer confidence in the economy. Retailers will need to adapt and be sensitive to consumer sentiment to maintain customer loyalty."

Short term lending could prove beneficial for heavy shoppers
During the holiday season, many people stretch their budgets to bring joy to friends and family members. While this may be rewarding, it is important these consumers are prepared for the possibility of financial difficulties in the new year.

For example, a trip to the emergency room could be budget-busting after spending a lot of money on gifts during November and December. If people are forced to fall short of certain monthly essentials, costly late fees and penalties may be incurred.

However, short term lending can help consumers avoid such a situation. This type of loan provides people with funds fast to ensure they don't miss a single payment. It is important to look at the full picture when determining the benefit of this financing. With about a two week term, the fees and interest charged is often less than what people would have faced if they missed a bill payment.