US: Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure

Mon Aug 03 07:30:00 CDT 2015

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level $91 $90

Americans' self-reports of spending averaged $91 in July, similar to June and essentially matching readings back to April. The latest average is slightly lower than in July 2014, but higher than every other July average since 2009. Americans' reported spending estimates moved little between 2009 and 2012, after the global financial crisis. By late 2012, the metric began to rise and continued to do so into 2013. Since then, it has hovered near the $90 mark, compared with much lower averages closer to $70 from 2009-2012.

The last few months have not seen changes in Americans' reported spending, but this isn't unusual for the middle of the year. The Commerce Department reported that Americans' spending was up in the second quarter compared with the first -- consistent with Gallup's consumer spending figures in those quarters. Though gas prices remain lower than they were a year ago, which had boosted Americans' confidence in the economy, this does not seem to have had much effect on Americans' overall spending.

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.