Retailers hoping to get a bit of a bump from people burning through their tax refunds may have to be patient: A new survey from the National Retail Federation reports that 46% of those expecting a refund this year intend to save the funds. That’s somewhat more than the 44% who said they would do so last year, and a record high for the survey. About 67% of those polled say they anticipate a refund check from Uncle Sam.
That makes sense, “especially when you look at the way consumer debt has been rising a little, especially in December and January,” says Doug Hart, partner in the retail and consumer products practice for BDO USA, a consulting company that also tracks shopper trends. “So this may just be things normalizing a bit, and not a trend that will continue throughout the year. In fact, with the economy gaining a little momentum, consumers and retailers are somewhat more confident.”
The NRF, which conducted its survey with Prosper Insights, says 38% of consumers say they intend to use refund money to pay down some debt; 25% say they will need it for everyday expenses; 13% will spend it on a vacation and 11% will treat themselves.
Surprisingly, the youngest consumers are most enthusiastic about saving, with 58% of those between 18 and 24 planning to save some cash, higher than any other group.
The NRF survey also finds that this year, 65% of taxpayers intend to file online, up from 63% last year. And 38% will prepare their tax filings themselves, up just a tick from 37% last year.
So far, it reports that 23% have already filed their taxes; 37% intend to so this month, and another 26% in March. About 15% say they will wait until the last minute.