US: Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure

Mon Nov 02 07:30:00 CST 2015

Actual Previous
level $92 $88

In October, Americans' daily self-reports of spending averaged $92, up $4 from September. This is just above the $81 to $91 range seen since January 2015. Compared with Octobers in prior years, last month's $92 average is similar to readings from 2008 ($91), 2013 ($88) and 2014, but it is significantly higher than the October averages in 2009-2012, which ranged from $63 to $72.

Depending on November's spending figure, 2015 could follow the autumn spending pattern of the previous two years, as well as those of 2010 and 2011, in which spending increased in both October and November. September-to-October changes have seen mixed results. In recent years, spending was slightly higher in October. In some years, such as 2009 and 2012, spending dipped slightly or was flat. In 2008, though, average daily spending fell $8 from September to October at the onset of the economic crisis.

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.