Personal Finance

Interest rates remain locked at 15.03 percent for 7th week

Average rates on new credit card offers held steady this week, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average annual percentage rate (APR) remained at 15.03 percent Wednesday for the seventh consecutive week. Issuers left promotional interest rates and 0 percent balance transfer offers unchanged this week as well.

Card issuers have been reluctant to change rates for most of 2014. Since Jan. 1, the national average has changed just seven times. In most of those cases, the national average went up rather than down.

Issuers have been hesitant to lower card rates for some time now. As a result, the national average has fallen just twice in the past 12 months. By contrast, it's increased 10 times since Aug. 20, 2013.

More parents delay back-to-school shopping

Retail sales have been relatively sluggish this summer, according to research released last week by the U.S. Commerce Department. For example, retail and food sales grew by just 0.5 percent in July and by just 0.2 percent in June. But retailers could see a substantial uptick in sales later this month as more parents finish their back-to-school shopping.

According to a survey, released Aug. 20 by the National Retail Federation, about a quarter of parents of school-aged kids hadn't started shopping yet when they were polled on Aug. 12. Meanwhile, around 84 percent of families said they still had some shopping left to do. Just over 15 percent of families said they were completely done with their back-to-school spending.

Among the families that still aren't finished shopping for the new school year, many still have a substantial number of items left to buy. For example, just 44 percent have crossed off more than half the items on their shopping lists. A roughly equal number have crossed off less than a quarter of the items on their list.

Analysts at the National Retail Federation say that many parents may be procrastinating on their back-to-school shopping this year because they're holding out for last-minute deals. "As the shopping season draws to a close, budget-conscious parents are likely hoping that end-of-summer sales and promotions will be just what they need to wrap up their school lists," said the retail group's Matthew Shay in a press release . "Much of the delay this summer could also stem from families holding out for a sales tax holiday in their state, as well as from influential teenagers who want to first see what their friends are buying before they ask mom and dad to commit to their fall needs."

Regardless of when these families start spending, many are likely to keep a close watch on their budgets, which could depress overall sales. For example, according to the survey, 54 percent of families plan to do most of their remaining shopping at a discount store. Around 48 percent plan to hit the department stores, which are known for luring shoppers with heavy promotions this time of year. Just over 15 percent of shoppers said they've already used some kind of discount or promotion for 100 percent of their purchases.

In addition, most families plan to use cash rather than credit to fund their back-to-school shopping, and that too could be a sign that shoppers are remaining careful with their spending. Just 28 percent of families with school-age children plan to use a credit card for most of their school-related purchases.

See related:Fed: Card balances rise, keep pace with slow spending growth , NY Fed: Consumer debt up in Q2

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Other Topics

Credit Cards