Americans Likely to Use Economic Stimulus to Reduce Debt

New York City According to a survey released Tuesday by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and UBS Securities, Americans likely to receive a rebate passed by the U.S. House of Representatives (rebating $600 to qualifying individuals and $1,200 to qualifying couples) would most likely use that rebate to pay off debt.

The survey, conducted between Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, asked 1,000 Americans what they would do with the money if the legislation was signed into law—increase spending, increase savings or pay off debt. Forty-three percent of respondents said they would use the money to pay off debt, 26% said they would put the money into savings and 24% said they would spend it.

"Consumers see this tax rebate program as similar to earlier ones and will act in a similar fashion using the lion's share of the rebate money for debt relief," said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC. "Lenders will see the money before retailers do," he said.

But, continued Niemira, “About $25 billion will head into the spending stream and that is positive for the economy."