Some Stimulating Data About Those Rebate Checks

Americans have virtuously declared an intention to use their economic-stimulus rebate checks for paying off bills, reducing debt, increasing their savings, etc. A Harris Poll worked around such pronouncements by including some more self-indulgent items on a menu of choices when it asked respondents what they’d do with the money.

Twenty percent said they’ll use at least some of it for a “trip for leisure purposes,” and 16 percent said they’ll use some for dining out. Getting something tangible to show for their rebate money, 17 percent will devote some to home improvements. Ten percent plan to buy “technology devices,” and the same number expect to spend on “entertainment events/devices.” If spa-industry moguls hope the stimulus plan will get them through these hard times, they’re out of luck: Just 2 percent of respondents said they plan to spend any of the money on “indulging in a spa treatment.”

BIGresearch polling for the National Retail Federation, meanwhile, found consumers expect to spend about 40 percent of their rebate. It also notes a shift since February in the ways they plan to spend it. “Due to the rising cost of fuel, the largest leap in rebate spending will come at the pump,” says BIGresearch in its report of the findings, “as 17.2 million people plan to use some of their tax rebate check for gasoline,” up from 12.1 million in February.

There’s been a smaller rise in the number planning to spend some on groceries (to 21.2 million from 20.4 million). And there have been declines in the number saying they’ll use some for furniture, a vehicle or a “me time” indulgence.