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Consumer Spending Falls Down And Can't Get Up

Consumer spending is down. That statement is true based on most data collected by the government and private sector. The mystery and misery for retailers and the general economy is when, if ever, the consumer will return in force.

To add to concerns about consumer activity, the government recently put out its report on consumer credit balances. They are falling consistently and rapidly. New information from the retail sector indicates that most companies have no plans to add employees for the holiday season, a sign that they fear the foot traffic and e-commerce activity will be no better than they were last year.

Gallup recently completed a poll which shows that average consumer spending per month dropped from July to August and has now reached a plateau which is consistent, and not likely to rise.

“Americans’ self-reported average daily spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $63 per day during August — down $5 from July, and down $2 compared with August 2009. Consumer discretionary year-over-year spending is thus running just slightly below the depressed “new normal” rate of a year ago.”

Brutal, but apparently true.

“Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking August 1-31, 2010, with a random sample of 15,375 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.”

Douglas A. McIntyre