In recent months, the economy has continued its slow recovery. Unemployment dropped in April, the economy added an estimated 175,000 jobs in May and mortgage rates continue to hover near record lows.
Despite these positive developments, the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world's largest retail trade association, indicates Americans don't plan to spend more freely during the upcoming July 4 holiday.
The NRF's 2013 Independence Day survey, an annual poll conducted with market analytics provider BIGinsight, suggests Americans are still holding on to the cautious optimism of years past. For example, only a small portion of Americans say they are less affected by gas prices and more likely to spend on retail this July.
However, Americans do plan to celebrate the country's birthday bash this year.
According to the survey, 70 percent of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday by attending a barbecue, cookout or picnic. Overall, 164 million Americans will participate in these activities: the highest total observed in the survey's history. This follows last year's total of 160 million, which was a record-breaking figure at the time.
"In the coming days, retailers will offer discounts on everything from traditional barbecue food and accessories to beach gear and summer apparel, so there’s no question consumers will be able to find affordable ways to celebrate with friends and family," Pam Goodfellow, the director of consumer insights at BIGinsight, said in a release.
Fireworks Lead Other Popular Activities
Americans aren't just going to cookouts, however. More than 40 percent of Americans - 117 million - say they will attend a fireworks display or community celebration this year. This makes it the second most popular activity for Fourth of July. Attending a parade and traveling finished in third and fourth place, respectively, in the poll.
Gas Spending Will Not Impact Holiday Spending
Gas prices are not expected to be a factor in holiday plans this year, with nearly two-thirds of Americans reporting that the pump will not be a factor in their activities. This figure was up from the 63 percent observed in 2012, and up markedly from the 40.6 percent recorded in 2008, when this figure hit its lowest total in recent years.
Most Americans Won't Purchase New Patriotic Items
The coming Fourth of July may be a big boon for grocers and food companies, but retail stores might not see the same benefit. The researchers said nearly half of all Americans already own a patriotic piece of apparel, such as a hat or t-shirt, and that 142 million own a flag.
Still, 25 percent of Americans reported that they will purchase patriotic gear this holiday season. This was up from the 23 percent recorded in last year's study and the 20.1 percent seen in 2011.
For more statistics, visit the NRF Foundation's Retail Insight Center here.