Affluence study: Plans for travel spending are strong

By Jeri Clausing
InsightThere is more good news for the luxury sector with the release of a report that shows affluent consumers are increasingly optimistic about their finances -- and that travel continues to rank at the top of items they intend to spend their money on this year.

The latest comes from the American Affluence Research Center, which does a twice-yearly survey of wealthy households. The 2014 spring survey, released this week, shows almost half of respondents expect their net worth to be higher next year. And that should translate to higher spending

Spending plans for the eight major items tracked is about the same or a little stronger than the prior two surveys. But the percentage of respondents who said they had no plans to make a major expenditure dropped to 45%. That, according to the report by Ron Kurtz, is a return to prerecession levels and a big improvement from recent survey ranges of 55% to 60%. The percentage had peaked at 68% in the spring of 2009.

Jeri Clausing"Overall the mood of the affluent is very conducive for increased spending on vacation travel," said Kurtz. "Plans for spending on international and domestic vacation travel are strong, as are the intentions to cruise."

The survey compiles indexes based on responses to questions about whether participants plan to spend more, the same or less than in the prior year. Index values range from 0 to 200 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. The value of a neutral response is 100.

The vacation travel index rose 3 point from the prior survey and is now at its highest level since fall of 2007, the report said.

The index for changes in spending on domestic vacation travel rose 2 points from the fall 2013 survey, to 113, while the index for changes in spending on international vacation travel rose 4 points to border on positive territory, at 100.

The survey focuses on the 11.4 million households that represent the wealthiest 10% of all U.S. households, based on Federal Reserve Board data, and is conducted through questionnaires mailed to a national sample of 4,500 men and women. The spring survey is based on 330 responses and has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.
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