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As the lingering effects of the recession slowly dissipate, many consumers are returning to their original spending habits - almost. Credit card spending increased 9.5 percent in 2011, but it grew in slightly unexpected ways, according to a recent MasterCard study.
Instead of simply returning to their pre-2008 spending habits, consumers have apparently internalized some of the recession's lessons, according to the study. This includes spending more on long-term goals, capitalizing on credit card rewards and utilising debit cards.
This raises an interesting question: will consumers stick to these tactics? According to Creditcards.com, the answer is yes. Many economists feel that the lessons learned since 2008 were accumulating before the recession began.
"There was a demand for simplicity that was picking up anyway - a boredom with excessive consumption," Michael Willmott, co-author of a book about modern spending habits, told the news source.
Combined with the spending habits highlighted by the MasterCard study, this likely indicates that consumers are treating their plastic differently. Instead of funding splurges, people are using them to pay for regular purchases.
For merchants, this means consumers will likely be using credit cards routinely and be looking to maximize rewards and bonuses. Credit card processing merchants should make sure their pos systems are setup to handle this type of transaction and that customers are aware that they accept credit cards.
Another finding of the MasterCard study was that consumers used debit cards almost 11 percent more in 2011 than in 2010. Whether this was done to keep better track of expenditures or simply out of convenience isn't known. What is accepted is that people are using plastic more frequently across the board, and that merchants would be wise to adapt to this trend.