WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Self-reported U.S. consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $67 per day in the week ending Nov. 25, including Black Friday weekend. This is down from $83 a year ago and the $79 comparable for 2010, and essentially matches the 2009 weekly comparable of $69.
Consumer spending was higher in the week before Thanksgiving week this year, with spending averaging $74, compared with $64 in 2011. This better pre-Thanksgiving week may have taken some spending from Black Friday week. These data are based on self-reported spending "yesterday" among respondents interviewed as part of Gallup Daily tracking. Gallup's self-reported spending data tend to align better with chain-store sales than with overall retail sales data, but are best seen as a measure of consumers' self-evaluated discretionary spending.
Daily Spending Shows Weak Black Friday Spending
Even as the nation's retailers heavily promoted early sales on Thanksgiving Day, consumers' self-reported spending averaged $54 over the three days ending on Thanksgiving this year, compared with $67 in 2011. Black Friday weekend also showed a substantial spending decline in 2012, to $84 from $103 a year ago.
Americans' self-reported spending for the week spanning Black Friday suggests that while some of the nation's retailers may have done well this year, consumers report spending less than they did a year ago at the traditional start to the 2012 holiday season. This may be partly a result of the early start to the holidays, with Thanksgiving coming early in 2012.
Consumers may make up for this poor start by spending more throughout the holidays, as implied by their own estimates of how much they plan to spend this year. In particular, Cyber Monday online spending is not included in Black Friday week, and spending on Monday could be substituting for some traditional Black Friday spending in 2012. Additionally, the decision by some retailers to extend Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales may have reduced consumers' urgency to shop over the traditional Black Friday weekend.
Even so, spending on a weekly basis has been running below that of a year ago since mid-October, after running higher than last year during September and early October. In this regard, it may be that the "fiscal cliff" debate is having a negative impact on consumer spending. The recent focus on higher taxes may be encouraging some consumers, particularly those with higher incomes, to pull back on spending.
Regardless, early results suggest retailers will face significant challenges as they seek to make their sales objectives this holiday season. In turn, retailers may suffer significant margin pressures this holiday season if overall holiday sales are going to end up slightly higher this year.
Gallup will continue reporting on consumer spending trends during the remainder of the holiday season.
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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking and reported on a weekly basis for 2011 and 2012, with random samples of more than 2,000 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total weekly samples of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
Three-day results are also based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking, with random samples of approximately 1,500 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on these total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
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 cellphone 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. Cellphone 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 (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone 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.
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.
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