U.S. Consumer Spending Remains on a Plateau

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The FINANCIAL — Americans’ daily self-reports of spending averaged $88 in September, essentially the same as the $89 found in August. Spending has been fairly consistent since April, hovering around $90.

The current figure is similar to the $87 found in September 2014, but is higher than the September averages from 2009 through 2013, which were all below $85. Gallup has not found a consistent pattern in spending changes from September to October. But spending tends to increase in November as the holiday shopping season begins.

From a broader perspective, average spending has been higher since 2013 than it was from 2009-2012. Gallup began tracking spending in 2008, and in the early months of that year spending was higher than it has been at any point since, a benchmark that has yet to be reached in the current recovery environment.

Bottom Line

Consumer spending in the U.S. has been fairly stable since April of this year, and going by previous years, it is likely to stay in this range until the start of the holiday shopping season.

But developments in the U.S. economy could change that. In particular, the September jobs report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday fell short of expectations. The 3rd quarter GDP report to be released in late October may also influence Americans’ perceptions of the strength of the U.S. economy, potentially influencing their spending choices. Gallup has found Americans have been a bit more positive about their finances thus far in 2015 compared with prior years and that, too, could affect their willingness to spend.

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