SOURCE: Putnam Investments

Putnam Investments

December 16, 2010 10:27 ET

Putnam Investments Annual Holiday Survey Finds Americans Plan to Save More in 2011

Have Ongoing Concerns About the Economy and the Direction of the Country

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - December 16, 2010) - Midway through the holiday season, American consumers are showing some signs of optimism compared to their views this time a year ago, according to Putnam Investments' annual holiday survey of 1,000 Americans. A majority of those surveyed expect improvements in the stock market and hiring next year, and two in five expect a rising housing market. Despite continued concern about the strength of the U.S. economy and the impact of the federal budget deficit, half of Americans feel as or more financially secure than they did a year ago. Financial restraint remains in vogue, and many plan to embrace spending limits this holiday season and focus on saving more in 2011.

Asked how they felt about their personal financial health going into 2011 compared to 2010, half of the survey respondents (52 percent) said they felt as or more financially secure than they did a year ago. Three in five (61%) believe that "stock prices will go up" in 2011, half (53%) said they think that unemployment will go down slightly in the coming year and 43 percent said that "the housing market will improve." One-third (33%) of the respondents believed that the U.S. economy "will be much healthier" in 2011 than it was this year.

"These results show that, despite the fact that this has been a difficult year, Americans retain their essential optimism," said Jeffrey R. Carney, Putnam Investments Head of Global Marketing, Products and Retirement. "There is positive momentum in Washington on taxes, and that may serve to further improve consumer confidence and help to strengthen the recovery. Regardless of what is happening in Washington, Americans have been resilient in the face of tremendous challenges in recent years, and our survey shows they remain focused on improving their personal financial situation and saving for the future. While these findings are encouraging, we still have a long way to go."

Consumer confidence continues to be at about the same levels as last year. According to the Putnam poll, 45 percent of respondents believed that "consumer confidence will get better," down slightly from 52 percent a year ago. Forty-seven percent believed "consumers will start to spend again," less than the 52 percent last year.

One-third of Americans (33%) believe that the U.S. economy will be healthier in 2011 and 40 percent think the U.S. will become more competitive in global markets, reflecting mixed feelings about the economy. An overwhelming majority of Americans (70%) do not expect the federal budget deficit to decline at all in 2011, despite heavy publicity about efforts to reduce the deficit.

According to the survey, 33 percent said they saved more in 2010 than in 2009 -- and Americans say that fiscal restraint has now become a more urgent priority. Asked to name their top three resolutions, "save more" was No. 1 in both this year's poll and last year's -- but 46 percent identified it as No. 1 for 2011, compared to only 36 percent for 2010. Also of note: the second most popular resolution for 2011 was "spend less," compared to last year's second-most popular resolution, "exercise more." Other resolutions for 2011 include exercising more (36%), losing weight (35%), quitting smoking (11%), volunteering more (11%) and giving more to charity (7%). More than a quarter of respondents (27%) do not make New Year's resolutions.

It also appears that Americans will be slightly more cautious in their spending as the holiday season gets underway, hoping to avoid a financial hangover. This year's survey indicated that 44 percent of respondents would "establish an overall spending limit," compared to 42 percent last year; and 34 percent would "limit spending on holiday entertainment," compared to 30 percent last year. In each case, the survey indicates that Americans are slightly more likely to take a cautious approach to spending than they were at the start of last year's holiday season.

About the Survey
The online survey of 1,000 American adults was conducted by Insight Express for Putnam Investments from November 11-14, 2010.

About Putnam Investments
Founded in 1937, Putnam Investments is a leading global money management firm with over 70 years of investment experience. The firm was recently named "Mutual Fund Manager of the Year" by Institutional Investor. At the end of November 2010, Putnam had $118 billion in assets under management. Putnam has offices in Boston, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Singapore, and Sydney. For more information, visit putnam.com.

Putnam mutual funds are distributed by Putnam Retail Management.

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