US: Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure

Mon Oct 05 07:00:00 CDT 2015

Actual Previous
level $88 $89

Americans' daily self-reports of spending averaged $88 in September, essentially the same as the $89 found in August. Spending has been fairly consistent since April, hovering around $90. The current figure is similar to the $87 found in September 2014, but is higher than the September averages from 2009 through 2013, which were all below $85. Gallup has not found a consistent pattern in spending changes from September to October. But spending tends to increase in November as the holiday shopping season begins.

Consumer spending in the U.S. has been fairly stable since April of this year, and going by previous years, it is likely to stay in this range until the start of the holiday shopping season. But developments in the U.S. economy could change that. In particular, the September jobs report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday fell short of expectations. The 3rd quarter GDP report to be released in late October may also influence Americans' perceptions of the strength of the U.S. economy, potentially influencing their spending choices. Gallup has found Americans have been a bit more positive about their finances thus far in 2015 compared with prior years and that, too, could affect their willingness to spend

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.