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 $104 in early August, the highest level since the recession, Americans’ average self-reported daily spending in the first week of October was $90. Looking at the entire month of September, the average of $84 remains above spending levels since the recession; however, the August average was the highest of any month for five years. Looking over a longer period, spending had been relatively flat between the beginning of 2009 and the last quarter of 2012, averaging just $66.73 per week over that period. Spending began to rise in 4Q 2012reaching a level of about $88.11 per week through August of 2013.
While there are large weekly swings in these data, the growth trend that began at the end of last year seems to be tapering off. While this does not directly indicate that the business cycle is reaching an apex, it does suggest that any growth will continue to be moderate at best.
Without the availability of new government data, the Gallup figures provide much of what little information is now accessible to researchers. The current levels of consumer spending, although not stellar, are an improvement over earlier levels, and the recent tapering off of consumer purchases may be reflecting worry over government contracts and wage payments in advance of the recent furloughs.