Overall self-reported daily US consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $74 per day in July 2011, up 9% from $68 in July 2010 and 7% from $69 in June 2011, according to July 2011 Gallup survey data. Americans spent more per day, on average, in July than they have in any month since December 2010, when daily spending averaged $75.
The highest spending recorded so far in 2011 besides July is $69 in both May and June. The low point of average daily spending in 2011 so far is $58 in January, meaning the July figure beats the year-low by 27.5%.
Upper-Income Spending Up From a Year Ago
Upper-income spending (among Americans making $90,000 or more annually) averaged $128 per day in July, which was essentially the same as the $124 and $126 recorded in June and May, respectively. But this is almost 8% higher than the $119 average of June and July 2010.
Average daily upper-income spending reached its recent monthly high in May 2010, when it hit $145, 13% more than the July 2011 total. However, the July figure beats the 2011-to-date low figure of $102, recorded in January, by 25%.
Lower- and Middle-Income Americans Continue to Hold Back
Americans who make less than $90,000 per year reported spending an average of $63 per day during July, on par with the $61 of June and the $64 of July 2010. The July 2010 figure is the highest recorded since January 2010. The lowest daily average spending figure among lower- and middle-income Americans recorded so far this year is $50 (January), which the July figure beat by 26%.
Back-to-School, Vacation Spending May Explain July Bump
Gallup analysis indicates the July increase in spending suggests some consumers may be doing early back-to-school shopping, as those aged 30 to 49 saw a sharp increase in spending compared with June. Upper-income consumers also appear to be leading this trend, as their spending levels are slightly higher than they were a year ago. Middle- and lower-income consumers, however, are spending about the same as in 2010.
Another potential reason for the increase could involve an uptick in vacation travel. Gallup says this could be partly related to efforts to escape the recent heat wave as both the East and the South showed month-over-month spending increases. Those 65 and older also increased their spending in July compared with June.
NRF: Total Back-to-School Spend Up
Although 2011 back-to-school per capita family spending is expected to be down slightly compared to 2010, total money spent should be higher, according to a July forecast from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and BIGresearch. Total spending on grades K-12 is expected to reach $22.8 billion, up 7% from $21.35 billion in 2010 and 31% higher than $17.42 billion in 2009.
About the Data: For Gallup Daily tracking, Gallup interviews approximately 1,000 national adults, aged 18 and older, each day. The consumer spending results are based on a random sample of approximately 500 adults each day.