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More Consumers Feeling Financially Comfortable

CHICAGO — More U.S. consumers are comfortable with their financial picture this year than in previous years.

According to new research from Chicago-based firm Technomic Inc. and American Express, 42 percent of respondents in a poll of 500 nationally representative consumers said they see themselves as "living comfortably" or even "very well off." This compares to 34 percent of those polled in the same month last year and just 21 percent of respondents surveyed in November 2012.

In addition, the proportion of consumers reporting that they are struggling financially is down to just 13 percent, compared to 21 percent last November and 23 percent in 2012.

The largest group, however, remains those who say their families are "getting by" financially — 45 percent this year, the same proportion as in the 2013 poll but down significantly from 57 percent in 2012, according to the research firm.

"We know that consumers base short-term spending decisions, from restaurant meals to retail purchases, on subjective feelings of economic confidence," said Mary Chapman, senior director of product innovation at Technomic. "The fact that more families are feeling financially comfortable indicates that their mood is likely to be more celebratory throughout the year-end holidays. Prospects are bright for good December sales in retail stores, as well as for year-end dining — from special meals in full-service restaurants to fast-food stops made as part of the shopping rounds."

The new Technomic/American Express research also found consumers increasingly rely on foodservice as part of Thanksgiving. In the Technomic/American Express poll, 12 percent reported that they planned to celebrate Thanksgiving in a restaurant, hotel or club.

One-third of respondents who expected to dine at home on Thanksgiving said the meal would include at least one prepared ready-to-eat dish from a retailer or restaurant. In 2013, 29 percent included prepared foods in their Thanksgiving meal compared to 27 percent the year before.

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