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U.S. Consumer Spending Rises in November

U.S. Consumer Spending Rises in November

Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • November spending averaged $98 per day, up from $93 in October
  • Highest spending average for month of November in Gallup's trend
  • Spending increased more among lower- and middle-income Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' daily self-reports of spending averaged $98 in November, up from $93 in October. The latest figure exceeds the $92 average recorded in the same month a year ago and is the highest for any November since Gallup began tracking consumer spending in 2008.

Graph 1

These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted Nov. 1-29. Gallup asks Americans each night to report how much they spent "yesterday," excluding normal household bills and major purchases such as a home or car. The measure gives an indication of discretionary spending.

The highest monthly averages on this self-reported spending measure came in the early months of 2008. Since the recession ended, self-reported spending has gradually increased. In several months recently, including November, the monthly average has been in the high $90 range, reaching $100 in July.

The November figure provides a strong springboard for the usual surge in holiday spending in December. Gallup has recorded an increase in December spending over November's figure in every year since 2008, with an average increase of $6.

The $5 increase in November spending compared with October is larger than usual. In some years, spending between these two months has stayed flat or even dipped. Generally, average daily spending rises $1 to $3. One exception was 2014 when spending increased $6 between October and November.

Average Reported U.S. Consumer Spending, October-December
Monthly averages
  October November December
2016 $93 $98 --
2015 $92 $92 $99
2014 $89 $95 $98
2013 $88 $91 $96
2012 $72 $73 $83
2011 $70 $71 $76
2010 $63 $66 $75
2009 $66 $67 $72
2008 $91 $87 $89
Gallup Daily

November Increase Driven by Middle- and Lower-Income Families

Spending among lower- and middle-income families is up relatively sharply on both a monthly (up $7) and year-over-year (up $5) basis. Americans with an annual household income of less than $90,000 spent an average of $82 per day in November, the highest for this group in nearly two years.

By contrast, spending among upper-income Americans -- those with an annual household income of $90,000 or more -- averaged $146 in November, similar to October's $143 but higher than the average for November of last year ($137).

Graph 3

Bottom Line

U.S. Department of Commerce data show that consumer spending improved markedly in recent months, including a combined 4.3% increase in year-over-year sales in September and October. Now Gallup's data indicate that trend may have continued into November, offering a positive sign for holiday retailers.

Americans have matched or exceeded their previous monthly spending average not only this month but also five other months this year. If this trend continues, next year's monthly spending averages could rival the record highs seen in 2008.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 1-29, 2016, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 13,724 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 ±$5 at the 95% confidence level. 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 Gallup Daily tracking works.

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