NRF Says Consumers Plan to Save Their Tax Refunds for Later

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WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#NRFNews–A record low number of Americans will spend their tax returns this year
while the second-highest number on record will put the money into
savings, according to the annual tax
return survey
released today by the National Retail Federation and
Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“Financial security continues to be top-of-mind for all Americans, and
consumers are hanging on to their tax refunds tighter than ever,” NRF
President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Consumers are leveraging their tax
returns to build up their savings, but that’s good news in the long run
because money saved today is money that can be spent down the road,
particularly during the back-to-school and holiday seasons later this
year.”

Of the 66 percent who are expecting a refund this season, only 20.9
percent of consumers will spend their refunds on everyday expenses, 8.7
percent will use them for major purchases such as a television,
furniture or a car, and 7.6 percent will splurge on special treats like
dining out, apparel or spa visits. The numbers are down from 22.4
percent, 9.2 percent and 8.3 percent last year, respectively, and are
record lows in the history of the survey. The number planning to spend
the money on vacations dropped to 10.7 percent from last year’s 11.4
percent, the lowest since 10.3 percent in 2013. In addition, 8.8 percent
plan to use their refund on home improvements.

Rather than spending their refunds, 48 percent of consumers plan to put
the money into savings, second only to last year’s record high 49.2
percent. In addition, 35.5 percent will use the money to pay down debt,
up from 34.9 percent last year but far below the peak of 48 percent seen
in 2009.

“Millennials are mindful of how they spend their hard-earned money these
days, especially when it comes to any refund they expect from their
taxes,” Prosper Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow said.
“Although Millennials and Gen X are focused on allocating their refunds
to savings or reducing their debt, young adults are also apt to seize
the opportunity to treat themselves to a little discretionary spending.”

According to the survey, 68 percent of Americans plan to file their
taxes online, the most in survey history. About two in five (39 percent)
will use computer software to prepare their taxes on their own, while 21
percent will hire an accountant, 13 percent will prepare their taxes
manually and 10 percent plan to have a spouse, friend or relative help.
With nearly one in five (18 percent) planning to hire tax preparation
firm, consumers are poised to spend $5.8 billion on these services,
which averages to $131.66 per person among this group of filers.

Of those surveyed, 22 percent have already filed their taxes, 37 percent
plan to do so in February, 26 percent will file in March and 15 percent
will take their time and file at the last minute in April.

The survey, which asked 7,609 consumers about their tax return plans,
was conducted February 1-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus
1.1 percentage points. Full data results will not be published on
NRF.com but news media and analysts who require additional information
can contact press@nrf.com.

About Prosper Insights & Analytics

Prosper Insights & Analytics delivers executives timely,
consumer-centric insights from multiple sources. As a comprehensive
resource of information, Prosper represents the voice of the consumer
and provides knowledge to marketers regarding consumer views on the
economy, personal finance, retail, lifestyle, media and domestic and
world issues. www.ProsperDiscovery.com

About NRF

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing
discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main
Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet
retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is
the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four
U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to
annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.

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Contacts

National Retail Federation
Ana Serafin Smith, 855-NRF-PRESS
press@nrf.com