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Strong consumer credit data means now is the time for business expansion

May 10, 2013 Walt Wojciechowski

American consumers are becoming more responsible with their credit lines, which is good news for business owners. According to the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices, consumers defaulted on fewer loans in March than in February.

The default rate overall was down to 1.5 percent from 1.55 percent in February indicating improved consumer credit for Americans. Also, both first-time mortgage and refinance defaults decreased in the month-to-month measurement. Only 1.41 percent of first mortgages defaulted, down from the February mark of 1.48 percent while 0.69 percent of second mortgage consumers failed to make home loan payments last month, a decrease from the 0.71 percent rate listed in February.

The only blemish in the report was that defaults on bank card payments in March went up to 3.51 percent from 3.37 percent the month before. However, the latest number of credit card delinquencies reported is still significantly lower than the 4.47 percent mark seen in March 2012.

"The first quarter of 2013 shows healthy consumer credit quality," says David Blitzer , chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices. "The first and second mortgage default rates decreased, the bank card rate increased and the auto loan rate remained flat in March. All loan types remain below their respective levels a year ago."

As consumer credit reports improve in markets across America, lenders could see a surge in loan applications. With improving credit ratings, consumers may be looking to make large investments or purchases that they were unable to complete during the Great Recession.

The housing market has already shown a robust rebound from the lows of recent years and the auto industry has seen sales surge as well. According to J.D. Power and Associates, total vehicle sales for April are expected to be 7 percent higher than auto sales in April 2012.