Economy

US Consumers' Spending Flat in March, at $100

US Consumers' Spending Flat in March, at $100
by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • March spending similar to February's $101 average
  • Eighth monthly average of $100+ since 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' daily self-reports of spending averaged $100 in March, about the same as the $101 average in February. This is the highest spending estimate for any March in Gallup's tracking since 2008, topping the $89 from March 2013 and 2016.

Americans' Reported Spending "Yesterday" -- Monthly Averages

March has not generally been one of the higher spending months over the past decade; it had the lowest monthly spending averages in 2008 and 2009.

The latest figure is the eighth daily spending average of $100 or more that Gallup has recorded for any given month during nine years of tracking the metric. Half of these three-digit monthly spending averages have occurred in the past year, while the other four took place in 2008 before the global financial crisis in the fall.

The March average is based on more than 15,000 interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking throughout the month. Gallup asks Americans each night to report how much they spent the previous day, excluding spending on normal household bills and major purchases such as a home or car. The measure gives an indication of discretionary spending.

In recent years, March has more often than not yielded a spending average that is at least a few dollars higher than February's average. But it's not unprecedented for spending to remain flat in March, as it did in 2014, along with this year; or to decrease, as it did in 2008 and 2009.

Comparison of Average Daily Reports of Spending, February-March
Monthly averages
February March Change
$ $ $
2017 101 100 -1
2016 84 89 +5
2015 82 86 +4
2014 87 87 0
2013 83 89 +6
2012 63 74 +11
2011 61 64 +3
2010 59 63 +4
2009 64 59 -5
2008 106 81 -25
Gallup Daily

Spending Steady Among Income Groups

Those in households with annual incomes of $90,000 or more typically spend more than twice as much as those making less than $90,000, and that was the pattern in March as well (average daily spending of $163 vs. $75, respectively).

MarchSpend_1b

Bottom Line

Despite a rocky month for the stock market, Americans' confidence in the U.S. economy has remained positive overall, and their spending has reflected that. Last month, Americans' spending strongly outpaced their spending in March of prior years -- a positive sign that could build on better-than-expected growth in the fourth-quarter gross domestic product. Although consumer spending trends often show seasonal patterns, changes in Gallup's trend from March to April have been inconsistent, offering little guidance on what to expect for the April 2017 spending estimate.

These data are available in Gallup Analytics.

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 in the following charts:

Daily: Employment, Economic Confidence, 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 for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 1-31, 2017, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 15,695 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error for the spending mean is ±$5. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.


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