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USA Today has a story saying that new research shows that the current economic downturn has caused 37 percent of Americans to reduce spending on their credit cards, and only 10 percent to say that they will increase spending, “as oil and food prices soar, home prices sink and lenders tighten credit.”

The study, by California-based Javelin Strategy & Research, also says that “54% of consumers said they plan to spend less on ‘discretionary’ or luxury items, while a mere 5% plan to spend more. The percentages of consumers spending less were even higher among consumers aged 35 to 64. And 57% said they are ‘more careful’ about eating at restaurants, where bills are often paid with plastic.”

This shift, USA Today notes, comes at a time when Americans have $961.8 billion of revolving debt … equal to roughly $3,150 per person, which is up 58 percent in this decade.

KC's View:
Maybe retailers will have to worry less about usurious interchange fees if people spend less using their credit cards.

This trend also opens the door, it seems to me, for retailers to do some creative “cash-only” promotions…trying to get people to use their cards less.

The big question, of course, is whether people will go back to their old/bad habits when the economy rebounds. But at least for the moment, there seems to be a silver lining to the dark cloud of recession.