In the midst of a recession a decade ago, about 3 times more consumers said they had been spending less money (53%) in recent months than those who self-reported spending more (17%). But for the first time since that period, the share of consumers spending more (34%) exceeds the percentage spending less (32%), according to the latest data released by Gallup.
The figures, based on a survey of more than 1,000 US adults conducted each April, come as the Commerce Department reports that consumer spending was up by 0.9% month-over-month in March – which Gallup notes is the largest one-month jump in a decade.
The consumers in this survey were also asked as to whether their change in spending represented a “new normal” for them or is temporary. Slightly more than 1 in 8 (13%) say they have increased their spending and this is their new normal (up from the low point of 6% in 2009), so there is at least some proportion of the population that are willing to keep open their pursestrings at a new level.
But the data also suggests that Americans at least aspire to a degree of frugality, even if this is significantly lower than around the time of the financial crisis. Around one-quarter (23%) of Americans say they are both spending less and trying to maintain it, compared to 38% in 2010.
This appetite for frugality is also demonstrated in other survey results: the percentage of those who say they enjoy saving money (61%) comfortably exceeds the percentage who enjoy spending it (36%). This gap has fluctuated over time, but the approximate size has stayed roughly the same since 2010.
Thriftiness is a consumer trend that is also reflected in the appetite for print and digital coupons along with private label products and lower-priced brands, although consumers of all generation groups spend considerably across many purchase categories.
Further data from Gallup can be viewed online here.
About the Data: Numbers are based on telephone interviews conducted April 1-9, 2019, with a random sample of 1,012 US adults aged 18 and older.