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U.S. Consumer Spending Slips

Analysts use every tool at their disposal to try to glean some insight from consumer behavior that retailers can use to plan their next moves, but if there’s any constant in this field, it’s that there’s no accounting for the unpredictable in consumer spending.

Bloomberg Business reported that data from the Commerce Department shows U.S. consumers failing to reach spending estimates for September. Total purchases increased just 0.1 percent, despite a 0.4 percent spike during August. Economists participating in a Bloomberg survey predicted a median rise of 0.2 percent for September.

“There was a definite loss of momentum as we were coming out of the third quarter, but don’t worry too seriously about that,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James Financial, Inc. “The job growth is positive, but we’ll need to see better wage growth down the line.”

Part of the decline in spending may also be attributed to more diligent savings activities on the part of the average consumer, The Wall Street Journal explained. In September, the personal saving rate, which calculates the percentage of a consumer’s disposable income in savings accounts, rose from 4.7 percent in August to 4.8 percent.

It should be expected that spending figures will most likely rise as the holiday shopping season kicks into gear, but how high those numbers will go could be limited by slowing momentum. The National Retail Federation projected that holiday sales will experience a 0.4 percent decline in holiday retail sales compared to 2014.

There is a silver lining to all this statistical doom and gloom, though. The NRF is estimating that online sales will grow by anywhere from 6 to 8 percent for a total of $105 billion in revenue this holiday shopping season.

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