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Americans Eager to Enjoy Tax Refunds This Year, According to NRF Survey

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For Immediate Release
Kathy Grannis (202)783-7971

Americans Eager to Enjoy Tax Refunds This Year, According to NRF Survey

Washington, March 2, 2010 – After two years of paying down debt and skipping family vacations, many Americans plan to cautiously start spending their tax refunds once again. According to NRF’s 2010 Tax Returns Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 43.9 percent of Americans expecting a refund will pay down debt, fewer than the 48.0 percent in 2009. However, only 65.5 percent of tax payers are expecting a refund, down from 68.4 percent last year.  

According to the survey, 12.5 percent of people expecting a refund plan to treat themselves or their families to a major purchase such as a new television, furniture or car, up from 11.0 percent last year. Others will stash their refund away in savings (40.3%), put it towards everyday expenses (28.8%) or go on vacation (10.0%).  

“A little bit of ‘free money’ will go a long way for Americans this year,” said Tracy Mullin, President and CEO, NRF. “Retailers planning special promotions over the next few months may find that shoppers are a bit more receptive to opening up their wallets than they have been for the past year.” 

As the internet becomes more of a mainstay in homes across the country, the number of people who file their taxes online continues to increase. This year, 54.4 percent of U.S. taxpayers will file their taxes online, up from 50.1 percent in 2007. Additionally, one-third (33.6%) of consumers will prepare their taxes using computer software, 23.5 percent will use an accountant, 17.6 percent will use a tax preparation service, 11.8 percent will have a friend, spouse or other relative prepare their taxes for them and will prepare their taxes by hand.  

“After spending the last year paying down debt or building up a nest egg, Americans are relishing the idea of spending their tax returns,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “Consumers focused solely on essential purchases during this economic downturn, and many are ready to treat themselves to something nice for a change.” 

According to the survey, 60.6 percent of Americans filed their taxes by the end of February, meaning that many tax returns have already been received or are on the way. An additional 24.4 percent will file in March and 15.0 percent will wait until the last minute and file in April.   

About the Survey 

The NRF 2010 Tax Returns Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to tax returns. The poll of 8,560 consumers was conducted from February 2-9, 2010. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

BIGresearch is a consumer market intelligence firm that provides unique consumer insights that are gathered online utilizing very large sample sizes. BIGresearch’s syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions survey monitors the pulse of more than 8,000 consumers each month to empower its clients with unique insights for identifying opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2009 sales of $4.4 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com.