Money & The Economy

Real Retail Spending Fell In September As Inflation Pinches Consumers

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Retail spending held steady in September compared to August, but fell adjusted to inflation as consumers spent more on essentials, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Despite the fact that consumers spent roughly the same as they did in August, $684 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, these results are not adjusted for inflation, which rose 0.4% on a monthly basis in September, indicating that consumers were getting less value from their spending, according to CNBC. For example, spending at bars and restaurants grew by 0.5% in September, but prices at the same establishments increased by 0.9%, the WSJ reported.

“The Census Bureau adjusts these reports for seasonality but not price changes,” Heritage Foundation economist E.J. Antoni told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Antoni noted that one can roughly estimate the real spending would be to simply subtract monthly inflation from the reported number, although month-to-month inflation does consider factors such as housing, which are not considered in retail sales.

Consumers spent 8.2% more year-on-year in September, matching the year-on-year inflation reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday. Shoppers generally spent more on necessary products, such as grocery stores and health products, while cutting back on non-essentials, such as sports equipment, books, furniture, and other miscellanious costs, according to the Census Bureau.

“[Consumers] are having to make tough decisions,” said Scott Brave, head of economic analytics for business intelligence firm Morning Consult.

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