US: Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure

Mon May 04 07:30:00 CDT 2015

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level $91 $86

Americans' daily self-reports of spending averaged $91 in April, up from $86 in March but down from several monthly averages in 2014. However, it is the highest April average since Gallup Daily tracking began in 2008. Spending in April is up $5 from the March average and is higher than the $88 daily average for last April. This is on top of a fairly strong March increase of $4, a potentially positive sign for the economy. The April increase is the largest month-to-month increase since November 2014.

Spending has historically increased in the spring, particularly in May. The increase this April is a departure from the past few years, when April spending was similar to March spending. Still, from a broader perspective, the trend over the past two years is mixed, without the clear upward trajectory measured in 2012 and 2013.

Average reported spending increased slightly in April among middle- and lower-income Americans, reaching $77 among this group with annual household incomes that are less than $90,000. Spending increased more sharply among the smaller number of upper-income Americans -- those with household incomes of $90,000 or more a year -- jumping $16 to $160 in April.

Spending among Americans in both income groups is slightly higher than in April 2014, but failed to eclipse May 2014 spending, when the average among all Americans reached a six-year high.

Self-reported consumer spending is a new behavioral economics measure based on the individual reports of a random sample of Americans. The focus is on consumer discretionary spending, including on basics such as gas purchases at the pump and more optional impulse purchases online or in stores. Excluded are routine spending, including the consumer's monthly bills, and big purchase items such as automobiles and housing.

By tracking consumers' reports of how much they spend on a daily basis, investors can monitor not only overall discretionary spending trends, but also the impact on Americans' spending patterns of everything from the day of the week to special events.

Gallup's self-reported Consumer Spending measure is a real-time indicator of Americans' discretionary spending. The behavioral characteristics of this new measure provide early and unique insights into how consumer spending is responding to various changes in the business environment.

Further, the spending measure provides estimates on a continuing basis, giving an early read on what the government eventually reports for retail sales roughly two weeks after the close of each month. Overall, Gallup's behavioral-based spending measure allows business and investment decisions to be based on essentially real-time consumer spending information.