Americans’ self-reported daily spending averaged $95 in August, up from $89 in July.
A new Gallup consumer spending trends survey finds that Americans’ self-reported daily spending in August was the highest Gallup has measured in any month in five years.
Gallup’s daily tracking survey asks Americans to report how much they spent the previous day, excluding household bills and major purchases such a a car or home. The data give an estimate of discretionary spending.
Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy. Americans’ self-reported daily spending averaged $95 in August, up from $89 in July. This is the highest reading since $99 reached in September 2008.
Gallup’s measure of consumer spending trends has been trending upward since late last year, the polling organization reports. From 2009 until November 2012, the monthly averages were consistently below $80. This period, tied to the prolonged economic downturn and high unemployment, represented a dramatic dropoff from 2008, in which each monthly estimate exceeded $80, including four months with averages above $100.
Consumer spending trends in August were more robust from Aug. 1-13, when Gallup’s spending estimate averaged $103. Between Aug. 14-31, the average was $89. But these figures exceeded the spending average of $88 for the year to date.
One reason for robust consumer spending in August may be tied to the height of back-to-school shopping, the second biggest retail event of the year after the winter holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation projected that K-12 and college back to school shopping would reach $72.5 billion this year, down from $83.8 billion forecast for 2012.
Other factors could include summer travel and seasonal recreational spending.
While upper-income Americans, parents, those aged 30-49 and men each reported higher spending levels in August than in July, but most of the key subgroups, including middle-and-lower income Americans and those with no children under 18 also self-reported marginally higher spending in August. Even unemployed respondents reported higher spending in August than in July ($74 vs. 70).
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.