U.S. Consumers Maintained Their Modest Spending in June

U.S. Consumers Maintained Their Modest Spending in June

by Lydia Saad

Upper-income Americans' spending was down, while everyone else's was flat

PRINCETON, NJ -- U.S. consumers reported spending $70 per day on average in June, essentially unchanged from $73 in May, and similar to June spending levels in each of the past two years.

Monthly Trend in U.S. Adults' Average Self-Reported Spending "Yesterday"

These figures are based on Americans' self-reports of the total amount they spent "yesterday" in stores, gas stations, restaurants, or online -- not counting home and vehicle purchases, or normal monthly bills. Thus far in 2012, average daily spending has ranged from $63 (in January and February) to $74 (in March). This is in line with the "new normal" reduced spending in place since 2009, narrowly ranging from $58 to $76.

High-Income Americans Reined in Spending in June

Average daily spending among upper-income Americans -- those earning $90,000 or more annually -- fell to $116 in June from $136 in May. This mirrors a decline in upper-income Americans' confidence in the economy over the same period, with the Gallup Economic Confidence Index for this group dropping to -17 in June from -9 in May. Upper-income Americans' willingness to spend may have been hampered by the compounding effect of the stock market's uneven performance in June and a sharp decline in the market in May.

At the same time, overall spending remained fairly flat for the month due to stability in lower- and middle-income Americans' average daily spending, which was unchanged at $60, similar to where it has been for the past year.

Self-Reported Spending Estimates, by Household Income, January 2011-June 2012

Consumers in the East Also Pulled Back

Another reason consumer spending wasn't higher in June may involve restrained spending in the East. Residents there reported average daily spending of $59 last month, down from $68 in May and well below the region's $71 average for the first five months of the year. By contrast, June spending in the Midwest, South, and West was on par with average spending from January through May.

Americans' Average Daily Spending, by Region, January-June 2012

At the same time, June spending patterns by gender and age were entirely consistent with what Gallup typically records. Men's average daily spending continued to outpace women's by a hefty margin, likely reflecting men's higher average income. Adults aged 30 to 49 -- the age group with both the highest income and the greatest likelihood of having a child under 18 at home -- continued to outspend both younger and older Americans.

Americans' Average Daily Spending, by Gender and Age, January-June 2012

Bottom Line

At $70, Americans' average daily spending in June was consistent with recent monthly spending levels, and roughly matched June spending in 2010 and 2011. While this represents a more confident consumer than Gallup found in June 2009, when daily spending averaged $61, spending remains suppressed compared with the $104 average in June 2008.

Consumer spending might have increased in June if not for the pullback seen among upper-income Americans and residents of the East. Falling gas prices nationwide may also have played a role, particularly if Americans didn't use the money they saved on gas for other types of purchases.

The upcoming U.S. labor report, due out Friday morning, and subsequent stock market reaction to it could be critical in determining whether consumer spending in July gains new energy -- thus spurring economic growth -- or continues to stagnate.

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

Read more about Gallup's economic measures.

View our economic release schedule.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking June 1-30, 2012, with a random sample of 14,687 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

The estimates for average daily spending have a margin of sampling error of ±$4.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. 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, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 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.

The questions reported here were asked of a random half-sample of respondents throughout June on the Gallup Daily tracking survey.

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 www.gallup.com.

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