Consumer Expenditure Trends in 2013

September 24, 2014

BLS-US-Consumer-Expenditure-Trends-in-2013-Sept2014Consumers spent more on housing and transportation but less on apparel and entertainment in 2013, details the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in a recent data release. While average expenditures by each consumer unit (families, financially independent single persons, or groups who share expenses) fell by less than 1% year-over-year to $51,100, the allocation of that money did change – in some cases quite considerably.

That’s particularly the case for apparel and services, which saw a 7.6% drop in average annual spending per consumer unit to $1,604. The BLS notes that the drop spread across most apparel categories, and included an 8.3% decline for men and boys clothing and a 7.6% decline for women and girls clothing.

The second-biggest percentage decline in spend came for entertainment, down 4.7% year-over-year to an average per-unit spend of $2,482. By contrast, spending on healthcare (2.1%) and housing (1.5%) grew the fastest of the major components.

Those results mirror recent research from Gallup, in which US adults surveyed were most likely to be increasing spending on necessities such as rent and mortgage, utilities and healthcare, and least likely to be growing their outlays on discretionary categories such as apparel and leisure.

Separately, data tables released by the BLS offer some insights into the role that different age groups play in various spending categories:

  • Relative to its share of consumer units (16.5%), the 25-34 bracket over-indexed on spending in categories such as alcoholic beverages (18.3% share of total spend), cellular phone service (18.9% share), apparel and services (19%), but under-indexed in its share of spending on entertainment (14.8%) and personal care products and services (14.7%), among others;
  • The 45-54 age group accounted for the largest share of annual aggregate expenditures (23.2%) relative to its size (19.5% of all consumer units) and brought in the most income before taxes (for more on marketing to Baby Boomers, see MarketingCharts’ Debrief on the topic);
  • The 45-54 demo was a particularly big spender on food (23.6% share of total expenditures), alcoholic beverages (24.1% share), entertainment (24.2% share) and education (33.8% share); and
  • The 65+ group, which comprised 22.3% of all consumer units, under-indexed in spending on apparel and services (14.1% share) and transportation (16.7% share), while over-indexing in spending on healthcare (31.1% share) and cash contributions (31.3% share).

About the Data: Visit the link above for full details on the BLS survey.

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