Economy

Summer Spending Trends Similar to 2009

by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist

Only exception is the July 4 holiday week, when 2010 spending was higher

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans reported spending an average of $65 per day during the week ending July 11 in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online. Consumer spending has essentially matched 2009 weekly spending levels in four of the past five weeks. The July 4 week is the exception, with consumers spending a little more in their celebrations this year than last.

May-June Consumer Spending, 2009 vs. 2010

Self-Reported Spending Implies Lower Retail Sales

Gallup's self-reported consumer spending measure fell in June compared with May. This is consistent with the consensus expectation of a declining retail sales report when the Commerce Department provides June results on Wednesday. Retail sales is a broader measure -- it includes the total receipts at stores selling durable and nondurable goods -- than Gallup's spending measure, which is oriented more toward discretionary spending, but the two often trend together when autos are excluded.

More importantly, Gallup's spending measure suggests that this July 4 brought a short-lived holiday splurge that didn't occur in 2009. The return to the 2009 weekly spending range during the week ending July 11 suggests that consumers continue to spend in the "new normal" range -- not good news for retailers hoping for better things in the second half of 2010.

Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in Gallup.com stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:

Daily: Employment, Economic Confidence and Job Creation, Consumer Spending
Weekly: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending

Read more about Gallup's economic measures.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking with a random sample of 1,000 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the weekly sample of national adults averaging 3,000 interviews, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.

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