PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans reported spending $91 per day, on average, throughout November. This estimate is up slightly from October, and exceeds those from prior Novembers, as spending estimates this year continue to outpace those from 2009-2012.
The results are based on Nov. 1-30 Gallup Daily tracking. Each night, Gallup asks Americans to say how much they spent the prior day, aside from normal household bills and major purchases such as homes or cars. The data give an estimate of discretionary spending.
November is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, and it usually ranks among the highest spending months of the year, with December typically the highest. However, October is also a fairly strong month for spending, so there has been only modest change between the October and November estimates, with November slightly higher. The main exception to the pattern was in 2008, when Americans began to pull back on spending amid the deepening financial crisis.
Excluding 2008, the average October to November change has been a $2 increase. The November to December increase is typically much more substantial, averaging a little higher than $7 since 2009, including a $10 surge last December.
Consumer spending was up slightly in November from October. Spending in general in 2013 remains much stronger than it had been during the long slump from 2009 to late 2012 after the financial crisis. If daily reported spending increases substantially, as is typical, from November to December, the coming month could be the strongest for spending that Gallup has measured since 2008.
It is unclear how that may translate to holiday spending specifically. Certainly some portion of December spending will be going toward gift buying, but much of it will not. Gallup has twice asked Americans to estimate how much they will spend on gifts this holiday season, with the November figure less optimistic about a strong holiday season than the initial October estimate. Nevertheless, even the weaker November holiday shopping estimate predicts an increase in retail spending during the holiday season over last year. Gallup will get a final read on holiday spending plans early this month.
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 and export in the following charts:
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Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 1-30, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 14,352 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.
The margin of error for the spending mean is ±$4.
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 of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline and cell telephone 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 to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.