Overall self-reported daily consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $66 per day in November 2010, up slightly from $63 in October and $59 in September 2010, and essentially matching the $67 of November 2009, according to new tracking data from Gallup.
Spending in 2010 Mostly Runs Close to 2009
During the first 11 months of 2009, spending remained in a fairly tight range of $59 to $67 before hitting $72 last December. From March through July of this year, Americans’ spending generally ran slightly higher than it did in 2009. Since then, however, spending has averaged slightly below its 2009 comparables and now just matches that of a year ago.
Meanwhile, spending levels in 2008 were substantially higher month per month than the equivalent periods in either 2009 or 2010, with the peak differential occurring in May. That month in 2008, the average consumer spent $114 per day, 58% higher than $72 in May 2009 and 81% higher than $63 in May 2010.
In November 2008, the average consumer spent $87 per day, 30% more than November 2009 and 32% more than November 2010.
Lower- and Mid-Income Spending Trails 2009
Lower- and middle-income Americans’ self-reported spending averaged $56 per day during November 2010, up about 10% from $51 in October and almost 17% from September’s $48. Spending by this group, those making less than $90,000 a year , was running below the 2009-2010 “new normal” monthly spending range of $52 to $64 during September and October 2010, but returned to that range in November. Still, their spending continues to trail 2009 comparables.
Upper-Income Spending Matches That of a Year Ago
Upper-income Americans’ spending averaged $120 per day in November, not much different than the $123 and $118 of the previous two months, or the $117 of a year ago. Spending among this group making $90,000 or more annually remains at the upper end of the 2009-2010 “new normal” monthly spending range of $107 to $121 per day.
Consumers Hold Back
Gallup research indicates consumers are holding back on purchases, matching their anemic spending of 2009, which trails far behind their deep recessionary spending of late 2008. While spending during Thanksgiving week seems to have increased, averaging $79 per day, during the first week of December, it fell back once again, to a $66 average.
The recent surge in gas prices tracked by Gallup, up 10 cents last week alone, could increase spending. It is a key element of Gallup’s overall spending measure. But Gallup says a significant increase in spending will depend on a change in attitudes among lower-, middle-, and upper-income consumers.
Holiday E-commerce Spending Up 12% So Far
In one sign December 2010 may prove to be a good month for consumer spending, for the first 35 days of the November – December 2010 holiday season (Nov. 1- Dec. 5), comScore has recorded more than $17.5 billion has been spent online, marking a 12% increase compared to the corresponding days last year.
The most recent week saw four individual days eclipse $800 million in spending, led by Cyber Monday (Nov. 29), which became the heaviest online spending day on record at $1.028 billion, up 16% year-over-year from $887 million.
Tuesday, November 30 reached $911 million, making it the third-heaviest online spending day on record, with Wednesday ($868 million) and Thursday ($850 million) also reaching high levels, although growth rates for the season subsided in the latter half of the week and through the weekend.