Gallup’s Consumer Spending is a weekly statistic based on telephone interviews with approximately 3,500 adults nationwide. The statistic is developed from a 7-day moving average of data on the average dollar amount spent by respondents each day not counting the purchase of a home, motor vehicle, or normal household bills. Gallup has been publishing these data since the beginning of 2008.
After surging to $96 in December, Americans’ average self-reported daily plummeted to $78 in January, which reflects post-holiday trends. This figures is the lowest is typical of the post-holiday spending. Consumers usually rein in their spending in January after binging in December, and this January was no exception. The $18 drop is on the high end of the declines seen in previous Januarys, but falls within the $3 to $25 range Gallup has found since it began tracking spending. While this figure is particularly low, it does not reverse the upward trend in the data seen since the end of 2009. Looking over the past year, however, average weekly spending has been relatively flat, at just under $90.
According to Gallup, daily spending in December was particularly high among upper- and upper-middle-income households — meaning those earning over $60,000 annually. But spending among those earning $60,000 to $89,999 has fallen from $110 to $75 in January, the lowest monthly average for this group in more than a year. This suggests that even though the benefits of the recovery have accrued mostly to higher income households, even upper middle-income families may be feeling the stress of slow wage growth.
While there are large weekly swings in these data, it is obvious that consumer spending has tapered off over 2013, and 2014 is not starting with a bang. While this does not directly indicate that the business cycle has turned back toward recession, it does suggest that any growth will continue to be moderate at best.
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