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U.S. consumer spending highest for any September since 2008

Staff Writer |
Americans' daily self-reports of spending averaged $91 in September, unchanged from August, but the highest average for the month since 2008.

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The stability in September comes after wide swings during the summer months - when spending rose from June's $88 average to an eight-year high of $100 in July, then fell to $91 in August.

Results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted throughout September. Gallup asks Americans each night to report how much they spent "yesterday," excluding normal household bills and major purchases such as a home or car. The measure gives an indication of discretionary spending.

Since December 2012, Americans' daily spending estimates have consistently averaged $80 or higher in all but one month. By contrast, in the four years prior, which included part of the Great Recession and periods of high unemployment that ensued, monthly spending averages were as low as $58 and never above $77.

Although spending in the U.S. had been lower in September than in August in each of the past six years, it held steady this year.

In all but one of those years it subsequently rose in October. The exception was 2012, when the average dropped in both September and October. Last year, September's average of $88 was only a dollar lower than August's $89.

American consumers this year avoided the September slump in spending typically seen in recent years. That has helped keep average spending for the first nine months of 2016 the highest for any year since 2008.

Spending patterns of the past decade for the months of October, November and December suggest that spending will increase even further.

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