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Consumer Spending Flat for Last Three Months: Poll

Despite other economic data to the contrary, U.S. consumer spending may not be as healthy as some believe.

Spending, as measured by how consumers themselves track it, has remained flat or slightly down for the past three months, according to a poll from Gallup.
Gallup says "self-reported" daily consumer spending was $89 in July, just a hair below the $90 of June and May. Spending essentially was flat regardless of income levels, according to Gallup, which tracked it based on interviews with more than 14,000 American consumers in July.

What’s more, it is still not back to pre-recession levels. “Longer-term, Americans' self-reported spending is much stronger than it was from late 2008 to late 2011, but continues to trail early 2008, before the recession gained momentum,” Gallup said.

Just last week, the Commerce Department reported more sanguine news about the American consumer. Commerce said June saw a 0.5 percent increase in spending, which was the fastest pace in four months.

The discrepancy is in the way the data is collected. Gallup surveys actual consumers, while Commerce looks at available data, mostly from manufacturing shipments, reflecting more the perspective of the retailer rather than buyer.
 

Ray Hennessey is Editorial Director of Entrepreneur.com.

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