Overall self-reported daily consumer spending in US stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $69 per day during May 2011, according to Gallup poll data. This figure is up 6% from $65 in April, but down 4% from the $72 average of May 2010.
Consumer spending during the first five months of 2011 has followed a pattern similar to that of 2010. Spending in both years has been far below that of 2008. Average daily consumer spending in May 2008 was $114, meaning the average has declined 39% in three years.
Upper-Income Americans Spent Far Less This May than Last
Upper-income spending (among Americans making $90,000 or more annually) averaged $126 per day in May, down a significant 13% from the $145 of the same period in 2010. While these Americans have the disposable income to spend more freely when they choose, they continue to hold back.
Upper-income spending during the first five months of 2011 has been highly consistent with that of 2010. Upper-income average daily spending in May is down about 32% from $185 in May 2008.
Lower- and Middle-Income Spending Remains Flat
Lower- and middle-income Americans’ self-reported spending averaged $59 per day during May; essentially the same as during the prior two months. These Americans, who make less than $90,000 a year, have so far in 2011 spent at levels similar to those of 2010.
However, in May 2008, lower- and middle-income Americans’ self-reported spending averaged $105, meaning it has declined 44% in the last three years.
Nielsen: Shop-to-Save Strategies Decline
Interestingly, findings from The Nielsen Company on how high gas prices are impacting consumer behavior indicate consumers were more likely to reduce spending in response to gas prices in 2008 than they are today. Nielsen data indicates that one in five households (21%) say they are reducing spending to a great degree, which is down from one in four (26%) in 2008.
Also in decline are saving strategies consumers deploy to lower costs. For example, 21% say they are shopping more at supercenters, which is down almost 28% from 29% in June 2008.
Currently, 12% say they are buying larger economy sizes, down 25% from 16% in 2008, and 10% say they are shopping at warehouse clubs, down 23% from 13% in 2008. In addition, 28% of consumers say they are using their grocery shopper loyalty cards to save up to 10, 20 and 30 cents on a gallon of gas by redeeming points at participating gas stations.
About the Data: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted May 1-30, 2011, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey. Interviews were conducted with a random sample of 14,011 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.