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U.S. Consumer Spending Strong During Thanksgiving Week

U.S. Consumer Spending Strong During Thanksgiving Week

Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • Consumers' reported daily spending averaged $112 over Black Friday weekend
  • That is similar to same period in 2012 and 2013, but up from prior years
  • Biggest spending occurred on Black Friday

PRINCETON, N.J. -- U.S. consumers' self-reported daily spending jumped from an average $90 in the first three weeks of November to $112 over the four-day retail spending bonanza following Thanksgiving that starts on Black Friday and ends on Cyber Monday. This level of holiday weekend spending is similar to what Gallup has found each of the past three years, while is significantly higher than the spending averages found during the more economically depressed period from 2009 to 2011.


The jump in spending during the four days after Thanksgiving has not been quite as sizable in the past three years as it was from 2009 through 2012, but that could simply be because overall consumer spending was more depressed in those earlier years. It could also be a reflection of holiday sales ramping up earlier in recent years, thus inflating the pre-Thanksgiving figures.

Additionally, a day-by-day review shows that consumers reported spending an average of $147 on Black Friday but then dipped to $99 on Saturday, $99 on Sunday and $102 on Cyber Monday. Thus, it appears Black Friday remains the primary shopping event of this time period.

Gallup's spending measure asks consumers to estimate how much they spent on retail goods or services "yesterday," either in person or online, not counting home or vehicle purchases. The figures for the Black Friday weekend are based on consumers' reports from Saturday through Tuesday about their previous day's spending.

Spending Can Vary in December

Americans' self-reported spending figures always increase over the Black Friday weekend, making it one of the highest spending periods of the year, and this year's estimate is a robust one. However, the true strength of the holiday retail season will be indicated by the extent to which weekly spending estimates remain at or near this level throughout December.

Americans averaged $101 in daily spending during the last full week of November, based on interviewing from Monday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 29. This is the figure that spending in upcoming weeks should be compared with in order to assess the retail climate.

December spending remained fairly strong in 2008 and 2014 and, to a lesser extent, in 2013. It actually rose substantially in 2012 -- but that could have been an artifact of the early timing of Thanksgiving and Black Friday that year altering consumers' spending patterns.


Notably, despite being a fairly solid number relative to recent daily spending reports, the $101 daily average spending for the last week of November this year is not consistent with Americans' highly robust estimate of the total amount they will spend on gifts this season. Whether that's because they have scaled back their plans or because they still have much shopping to do is not clear, but will become evident in the coming weeks.

Bottom Line

The holiday retail season appears to be off to a promising start, with Americans' self-reports of daily spending over the Black Friday period averaging $112. This is not quite the level of spending that would have been predicted based on Americans' wide-eyed November holiday spending forecast, but it does set retailers up for solid sales, should spending hold near this level in December.

These data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for consumer spending in the last week of November are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 23-29, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 3,045 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 for the spending mean is ± $10.

All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

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