Earlier this week, we released the findings from our October Financial Security Index poll. Only 11 percent of Americans, roughly 1 in 10, are more comfortable with the savings they have now, compared to a year ago. When we asked about debt, about 1 in 5 Americans said they're more comfortable with their debt now versus a year ago -- and that percentage has been declining every month since June. As of early October, only 19 percent of Americans said they had higher net worth than one year ago, while 30 percent reported lower net worth than a year ago.
However, there are some bright spots for consumers.
Interest rates are the lowest we've ever seen, particularly on auto loans. We're seeing rates around 2.5 percent or 3 percent on new or used cars. Coming off a couple of tough economic years, there are a lot of people who delayed buying cars, either out of uncertainty or out of necessity. Mix that pent-up demand and the need to replace vehicles that are no longer going to run with these record-low interest rates, and there's some pickup there. And I think that's good news.
Also, I think we may be pleasantly surprised with holiday retail sales. The past couple of weeks, we've had a better tone of economic data. We're certainly not out of the woods, but it has decreased the odds of a recession. I expect we're going to get a little brighter tone in our November poll. And, of course, that’s just in time for holiday shopping season. Retail sales have held in there very nicely the past few months, even with abysmal economic data. Now that it's looking a little bit better, I'm positive. I think consumers are going to surprise us on the upside.