Not a good sign from the American consumer.
Shoppers spent slightly more last month than they had the year before, according to MasterCard Advisors, which crunches data from credit cards, checks and cash payments to form sales estimates. But in nearly every category, the sales numbers were far short of 2008 levels, indicating the economic recovery remains sluggish.
And a Gallup Poll of consumers’ self-reported spending in August showed that consumers estimated they spent $65 a day, less than in June and July and roughly the same as in August 2009. The estimates, released Tuesday, included restaurant and gasoline purchases as well as items like clothing.
The news comes a day after a decent Consumer Confidence Index reading, so the news isn’t all bad. But it certainly seems possible that with the endless talk of double dips (on jobs, housing, etc.) the consumer is actively retrenching.