US: Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure

Mon Dec 07 07:30:00 CST 2015

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level $92 $92

Americans' daily self-reports of spending averaged $92 in November for a second month and roughly matches the November spending averages found since 2013, though it is among the highest for the month since 2008. While the November 2015 spending average is slightly below the $95 found in November 2014, it is similar to the $91 in November 2013. Other November averages since 2008 have been lower, between $66 and $87.

Gallup found that average daily spending increased significantly this year during the last few days of November and on Black Friday specifically. This spending increase could be a good sign as the U.S. enters the December holiday shopping period. Historically, spending increases by about $5 between November and December, although smaller increases were seen in 2008 and 2014.

In 2010, 2013 and 2014, spending increased from October to November, but it was stable or even decreased slightly in all other years. Last year, there was a large increase, $6, from October to November, but then a smaller one, $3, from November to December. Other than 2015, 2012 was the most recent year when spending was level between October and November. That same year saw a $10 jump between November and December, the largest jump Gallup has found between these two months.

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.