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Credit Confidence Survey, July Retrospective: Consumers Focused on Saving Money

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The Equifax Consumer Credit Confidence Survey is a semi-monthly survey that measures consumer sentiment about topics and behaviors related to personal finance and credit during the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. Wave 7 of the survey was conducted online July 2-8, 2020 and balanced so that gender, age group, employment status and region represent those over 18 years of age in the United States per Census estimates for 2018.

As the summer heat increases, nearly 80% of consumers are focused on saving money, with an equal split between building up emergency reserves and saving for retirement or the future, according to Wave 7 of the Equifax Consumer Credit Confidence Survey.

The survey also found that 20% of consumers have experienced a permanent and/or temporary layoff as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a number that is trending up, while 69% report being employed today versus 71% who report being employed at the beginning of 2020. Some 64% are currently financially stable versus 70% at the start of the pandemic in March.

Since Wave 6 of the survey, which was conducted June 19-22, 2020, more consumers report "loss of family or friends" as an effect of the Covid-19 pandemic (6% versus 8%), even as 43% report that the personal economic impact of the pandemic is more concerning than the medical impact. In fact, 60% of respondents are concerned that the Covid-19 pandemic might further impact them financially over the next 6 months, reflecting a statistically significant increase over the low point of 56% reported in Wave 5 (conducted June 5-8, 2020).

As the pandemic has spread across the country, overall consumer sentiment has improved — at least when it comes to their finances. Thirty-three percent of respondents reported feeling optimistic about their household's financial situation (up from 28% in Wave 4), while negative sentiments like anxiety (25%), frustration (20%), stress (26%) and feeling upset (9%) are all trending lower over the past few months.

When it comes to sheltering in place, 60% of consumers say they are following guidelines at least 80% of the time. Thirty-eight percent say they are following shelter in place guidelines between 21% and 79% of the time.

Overall, 34% of consumers say they're spending less money than they were a year ago, while only 23% are spending more.

And finally, roughly 43% of respondents are worried about identity theft during the Covid-19 pandemic, up from 41% in Wave 5 of the survey. At the same time, the number of people taking action to prevent identity theft seems to be declining, including changing passwords (34%), checking credit reports (33%), checking credit scores (33%), checking an existing account with a credit monitoring or identity theft protection service (29%), shredding mail (29%), placing a security freeze or lock on credit reports (18%), installing home security cameras (20%), signing up for an identity theft protection service (18%) and signing up for a credit monitoring service (18%). Fewer consumers report taking any of these actions in Wave 7 than when the survey was first conducted April 10-15, 2020.

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