U.S. Consumer Spending Holding at Slightly Higher Levels

U.S. Consumer Spending Holding at Slightly Higher Levels

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Americans report daily spending average of $73 in July

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans' self-reported daily spending averaged $73 in July, similar to June's $70 average and the $74 average from July 2011. July spending both this year and last year was up from July 2009 and 2010, but down from July 2008.

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

The results are based on July 1-31 Gallup Daily tracking. Each night, Gallup asks Americans to report how much they spent the prior day, apart from normal household bills or the purchase of a car or home.

While the short-term comparisons suggest little change in consumer spending, the broader trend has been toward increased spending after a sharp drop following the 2008 holiday season. For 2012 to date, Americans' reported daily spending has averaged $70. Each year's spending has increased over the prior yearly average since 2010.

Yearly Trend in U.S. Adults' Average Self-Reported Spending "Yesterday," 2009-2012

The 2012 figure may increase further between now and the end of the year. Gallup's data show spending in the second half of each year has generally exceeded that in the first half of the year.

Upper-Income Consumers Lead Way in Spending

Typically, when Gallup finds changes in its spending averages, it is due to changes among upper-income consumers -- those whose annual household incomes are $90,000 or greater, and who probably have greater latitude to increase discretionary spending. The Gallup trends show spending among lower- and middle-income consumers is generally much more stable.

The year-by-year trends confirm that upper-income consumers are driving the increased spending in recent years. To date in 2012, they report an average daily spending figure of $126, compared with $121 last year, $118 in 2010, and $116 in 2009. Spending levels are also up, incrementally, among low- and middle-income consumers.

Yearly Trend in U.S. Adults' Average Self-Reported Spending "Yesterday," 2009-2012, by Annual Household Income


Americans continue to report spending more in 2012 than they have in recent years, though spending is still well below 2008 levels. Though estimates have varied little from month to month in 2012, they have consistently been $70 or higher since March. Spending estimates reached $70 only occasionally in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Thus, Americans seem more willing to spend than in recent years, but perhaps not enough to bring the United States out of its economic slump.

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 July 1-31, 2012, with a random sample of 14,042 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 points.

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 are asked of a random half-sample of respondents each night 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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