"After a rocky few years, consumers are now more vigilant about how they spend their money and the importance of preparing for future financial stability," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Increased consumer savings proves extremely beneficial to shoppers and businesses in the long run, allowing future opportunities to invest in a large household item or even take advantage of a well-deserved family vacation."
According to the survey, nearly four in 10 (39.4 percent) Americans who expect a tax refund will use some of the money to pay down debt and 28.7 percent plan to use their "free cash" for everyday expenses. A few will throw caution to the wind and use their refund for a major purchase, such as a car or new television (12.3 percent) and vacation (11.3 percent).
More so this year than in the past, Americans are eager to file their taxes. According to the survey, 64.4 percent of Americans will have filed their taxes by the end of February, the highest since 2006. An additional 21.3 percent will file in March and 14.3 percent will wait until the last minute and file in April.
Not surprisingly, the number of people who file their taxes online continues to increase. This year, 60.7 percent of U.S. taxpayers will file their taxes online, up from 57.6 percent last year. Additionally, 36.0 percent will prepare their taxes using computer software, 21.0 percent will use an accountant, 18.7 percent will use a tax preparation service, 10.6 percent will have a friend, spouse or other relative prepare their taxes for them, and 13.8 percent will prepare their taxes by hand.
"For some, tax season is a way to reward themselves, for others it is the perfect opportunity to get ahead on their bills or other expenses," said Pam Goodfellow, Consumer Insights Director, BIGinsight. "Whatever the decision, many consumers this year are looking forward to taking back some of their hard-earned money from Uncle Sam."
About the survey
The NRF 2012 Tax Returns Consumer Survey, conducted for NRF by BIGinsight, was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to tax returns. The poll of 8,716 consumers was conducted from February 1-8, 2012. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.
BIGinsight delivers executives timely,' consumer-centric insights from multiple sources. As a comprehensive resource of information, BIGinsight 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.BIGinsight.com