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BMO survey: US summer spending heats up following record-breaking Memorial Day travel

June 18, 2024 | Customers

A special report from the BMO Real Financial Progress Index finds Americans plan to increase their summer spending across numerous categories, particularly on vacations and travel, with a quarter of Americans saying they will spend more on getaways this summer compared to last year.  

Millennials and Gen Z lead this summer’s getaway spending plans, with 30 per cent (on both counts) saying they plan to spend more over the next few months compared to 2023. This comes after a record-breaking number of travelers screened at airports during the Memorial Day weekend, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 

“On an upbeat note, travel and tourism has strengthened across most of the country, according to the Fed’s latest regional survey. Additionally, even amid lingering inflation pressures and higher-for-longer interest rates, consumer spending on experiences and some big-ticket items are still grinding higher, despite heightened price sensitivity around small discretionary goods outlays.” 

– Scott Anderson
Chief U.S. Economist at BMO 

In addition to summer vacations and travel plans, BMO’s quarterly study on consumer sentiment about money also highlights how spending patterns will vary this summer from last summer: 

  • Summer escapades: 25% of Americans say they will spend more on vacations and travel this summer and 13% say they’ll spend less, while 38% say they will spend the same amount as last year. 24% say they will remain at home this summer. 
  • Home sweet upgrade: 17% say they will spend more on home renovations, while 27% say they will spend the same amount on updates. 12% say they will spend less on home improvements, while 44% say they have no plans to do this.  
  • Sunshine playtime: Out of the households that have children under 18, 20% say they will spend more on summer camp and daycare, 14% will spend less, and 36% will spend the same amount. 30% say they are not doing summer camp or daycare at all. 
  • Big splurges: 13% percent will spend more on large purchases like a car or boat, 21% will spend the same as last year, 11% will spend less than last summer, while most (55%) have no plans. 
  • Milestone moments: 15% of Americans will spend more on special events like graduations and baby or wedding showers, while 31% plan to spend the same amount as last summer, and 12% less than last summer. The remaining 43% have no plans.

Despite the number of Americans with plans to spend more this summer, 60% of Americans say they are more concerned about the cost of living than they were three months ago, and 51% say they spend more than they know they should, according to BMO’s index. Additionally, credit card debt is a significant source of financial stress, with 54% of Americans saying it causes them anxiety. 

“With a quarter of Americans increasing their summer travel and vacation spending plans, it’s crucial to emphasize the importance of utilizing professional advice and digital tools to help save for goals and manage money effectively to prevent additional financial stress. If you need extra guidance, consider consulting a banker or financial advisor to develop tailored strategies that ensure you stay on track to make real financial progress while enjoying your vacation.” 

– Paul Dilda
Head of U.S. Consumer Strategy at BMO 

BMO helps customers stay on track and make financial progress 

In addition to creating a budget and sticking to it, BMO offers the following tips to help make real financial progress this summer: 

  • Build a budget and review spending and financial statements at least once a month. 
  • Develop a separate budget to save for more expensive plans, such as a vacation, travel or large purchases. 
  • Look for recurring “hidden” expenses, such as forgotten subscriptions, and cancel those you don’t use or need. 
  • Regularly meet with your banker or financial advisor to make sure your savings and payment patterns are on track to reach both near- and long-term goals. 
  • Set up a savings goal and recurring savings transfers – no matter the amount – into an account, which will provide a sense of progress and motivation to achieve your savings goals. 

Learn more about how BMO can help customers make financial progress

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