Australians are increasingly returning to their spend-thrift ways, with more consumers planning to use their credit cards this quarter, while savings will be less of a focus, according to the latest research from Dunn and Bradstreet (D&B).

D&B’s latest Consumer Credit Expectations Survey recorded the highest level of expectant consumer credit spending over the last three years, suggesting that pockets of optimism are working their way back into the economy.

Shrugging off the prevailing sense of financial conservatism, 41 per cent of consumers with a credit card intend to use their plastic for purchases they couldn’t normally afford in the coming months.

In addition to increased spending on credit, Australians are expected to turn away from saving more money. With a five per cent fall from the previous quarter, 26 per cent of consumers now indicate they are more likely to save money compared to the same time last year, while 31 per cent are less likely.

"After a long period of financial caution, it appears that consumers are more inclined to take hold of the green shoots in the economy, than focus on any negatives there may be," says Danielle Woods, Dun & Bradstreet's Director of Corporate Affairs.

"With the RBA maintaining low interest rate levels, the unemployment rate relatively steady, house prices recovering, and a bullish sharemarket, consumers are signalling that the positives outweigh the negatives and consequently are willing to spend more freely on credit.

"The combination of an increased intention to use credit cards and a willingness to forego greater savings suggests that consumers are setting aside their caution, which bodes well for businesses.

With the latest retail figures from the ABS showing a 1.3 per cent rebound in the sector, consumers are increasingly optimistic about their credit obligations.

"The lift in the number of consumers planning to use their credit cards and the fall in the number adding to their savings is a sign of strength in consumer demand and optimism," says Stephen Koukoulas, Economic Advisor to Dun & Bradstreet.

"The intention to increase the use of credit cards fits with a range of other recent indicators, most notably the sharp pick-up in retail spending in the early months of 2013 and the jump in consumer sentiment since late 2012.”