Americans to spend less, travel more over July 4th

Mon Jul 2, 2012 5:18pm EDT
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By Joseph O'Leary

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans plan to spend less, travel more and have plenty of cookouts over the Independence Day holiday this week, according to surveys.

Spending for the July 4 holiday is expected to be down 12 percent, according to a Visa poll released on Sunday, dropping to an average of $191 per person.

Two-thirds of all Americans plan on a simple cookout, according to a National Retail Federation survey released in June.

But both surveys showed a significant minority of people will not celebrate at all -- Visa survey said 21 percent and the retail group said 10.6 percent.

The retail federation projected that 67.6 percent of Americans plan a cookout or barbecue, while 48.5 percent will watch fireworks. Some 12.6 percent planned to travel or take a vacation over the holiday.

Cynthia Brough, a spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association, said the organization is projecting 42.3 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more during the Independence Day holiday, up 4.9 percent from last year.

Lower gas prices, at $3.33 a gallon nationwide compared with $3.55 a year ago, are a factor in the longer drives.

Despite economic concerns, "What the survey indicates is that Americans have an appetite for travel...," Brough said.   Continued...