Sept. Consumer Spending Nears Lowest Levels of 2011


Americans' self-reported spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations and online was down an average of $3 a day in September from the month prior, marking the second consecutive period of declines, according to a Gallup poll.

Consumers spent $65 a day in September, which is down from $68 in August and down sharply from the 2011 high of $74 in July. Gallup, which polls 1,000 national adults over the age of 18 each day, showed that upper-income spending also fell for the second month in a row.

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“After two months of declines, spending has now returned to March and April levels, which are some of the lowest of the year,” Gallup said in a report.

Spending dipped to $58 a day in January of this year, its lowest in 2010 and 2011 combined.

Americans that make at least $90,000 a year averaged $108 a day in September, the lowest since March. That’s down from $119 in August and $128 in July.

As for lower- and middle-income Americans, or those making less than 90,000 a year, spending dipped to $59 a day during September, which is even with August, but down from $63 in July. Both lower- and middle-income spending has been virtually flat since March.

The pullback in consumer spending over the last 60 days comes amid an economic slowdown and decline in both economic and consumer confidence. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke noted in testimony before Congress on Tuesday that consumer behavior both reflects and contributes to the slow pace of recovery.

“Gallup Daily tracking results suggest that is indeed the case,” the group said in a statement. “In turn, the decline in consumer spending does not bode well for the U.S. economy of the nation’s retailer during the important holiday season.”

Meanwhile, Gallup’s Job Creation index fell for the third month in a row in September, and since that kind of dip is usually short followed by a drop in consumer spending, Gallup predicts there may be further decreases in spending during October.

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