Home > Main > Austerity, Boshterity*! You are Messing up my Spending Data!

Austerity, Boshterity*! You are Messing up my Spending Data!

January 11, 2011

3 Day Average spending from Gallup.com for the Holiday Spending Season

I like to track the Gallup personal spending numbers.  These numbers are self-reported spending per day, and in the past they have served to show consumer spending increases or decreases.  For example, back in 2007, the numbers were over 100 per day.

In the last few years, these numbers have been much, much lower than they were back in 2007.  Since the Great Recession began, the numbers have been consistently below $70.

I am no longer as convinced as I once had been about their long term comparibility. The word of 2010 was “Austerity” according to Merriam-Webster.  Prior to last year, I only used the word “austere” when I wanted to impress people with my fancy wine describing skils – “I find most old world wines more…austere…than new world wines”.

I think this new found appreciation for austerity in the U.S. is skewing the self-reported nature of these numbers.  People do not want to admit – even to themselves – how much they are spending.  I could be wrong, this is pure armchair psychology, a speculation on an unprovable.

However, I still look at the Gallup Numbers.  According to these numbers, spending for Christmas 2010 was very similar Christmas 2009.  The peak number was higher, and the numbers through the major spending weeks had a higher average, but there was 16 days fromDec 3rd to Dec 20th where spending was much worse.   The week before Christmas saw a significant increase over 2009.

My next big look is how the January spending numbers will stack up.  I think that the U.S. is in a recovery, so I want to see if the traditional January drop off in spending is as profound as it has been for the last few years.  I hope spending does not drop dramatically, but only time will tell.

*Smausterity was a bit too humorous for AM writing, went with Boshterity.

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