In the days leading up to Christmas, consumers nationwide opened up their wallets, as spending rose substantially during the period — one potentially positive sign for the economy.
According to analysis conducted by Gallup, in the three-day period from December 21-23, the average amount consumers spent reached $119 — the largest amount for any three consecutive days in 2012.
“The eleventh-hour surge may help boost retail sales figures that had been largely viewed as disappointing to date this holiday season,” Gallup noted, regarding its findings.
Additionally, the high level of spending marked the most seen from consumers in roughly three years, the group noted. Much of 2008 saw spending in triple-digits for the average consumer, Gallup stated.
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“The last-minute surge may be good news for retailers and the economy as businesses prepare to finalize their revenue figures for 2012,” the data collection organization stated. “Americans may in fact have fulfilled their intention to spend slightly more this holiday season than last year.”
The firm added that should the “fiscal cliff” be avoided, spending may see solid levels in 2013, though many consumers appear to be concerned about the effects Congress’s decision will have on their finances.
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“People are hearing about (the cliff) and it negatively impacts confidence and investor sentiment and even holiday sales,” Todd Schoenberger, managing partner at New York-based Landcolt Capital, told Reuters.
In December, consumer sentiment reached a four-month low, according to The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence survey. A six-point drop to a confidence level of 65.1 was noted for the final month of 2012 from the previous month.
While sentiment is lower than many economists expected, consumers may see conditions get better in the next 12 months, as the job market continues to improve. The unemployment rate ticked down toward the end of 2012, and spending levels remained solid throughout much of the year. This could indicate consumers are more fiscally confident, which could spark plenty of purchasing activity in 2013.
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