Most Tax Refunds Won't Go to Retailers

Consumers are choosing to save their money or use it to pay off debt.

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Do you know how you'll spend your tax refund? In another sign of the tough economic times, this year, most Americans say won't be splurging on a new LCD television or leather sofa with that money. Instead, they'll save it, invest it, or use the money to pay off debt, according to a survey by ING Direct.

The survey found that half of those who anticipate a federal refund will use the cash to buy food for their families. One in three will pay off debt with the refund and one in four will save the money. That means retailers may want to scale back any expectations of a bump in sales that sometimes comes as people start spending their refunds. "Although Americans are often encouraged to spend their refunds to help stimulate the economy, Americans are choosing to save themselves first. They strongly believe their top priorities are to stimulate their personal finances and keep the lights on at home," says Arkadi Kuhlmann, president of ING Direct USA.

Sounds like the right priorities to me.