The Wealthy Drove Holiday Spending

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The well to do drove Christmas week spending this year. Perhaps the prospect of extended tax cuts was part of the fuel. According to Gallup, “An upper-income spending splurge led the way to strong self-reported spending during Christmas week 2010. Upper-income Americans’ self-reported consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $183 per day during the week ending Dec. 26 — up from $126 during the same week in 2009.”

The number is an extraordinary 45% improvement.

“Americans’ overall self-reported spending surged to an average of $85 per day during the week ending Dec. 26 — up from $77 during the prior week and $66 during the first two weeks of December. As a result, spending during Christmas week 2010 exceeded that of 2009 and 2008.”

None of the information in the Gallup data allows for a forecast of whether this aggressive consumer spending will last into next year. It is possible that a great deal of the expenditures were made on credit. This would mean people are re-leveraging themselves. and as real wages remain flat, the ability to buy goods and services next year may well drop off.

Methodology: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup Daily tracking survey during the week ending Dec. 26, 2010, with a random sample of 2,464 adults, with weekly random samples of about 3,000 adults for each of the first three weeks of December, 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