The Intuit Consumer Spending Index is the latest index from Intuit Inc., which also produces the Intuit Small Business Employment and Revenue indexes. These indexes provide a unique view into the economy based on data from those among the 45 million customers Intuit serves through connected services like Mint.com and QuickBooks small business accounting software.
U.S. consumers are spending again! After the historic spending lows of the 2008 recession, consumers are now spending about nine percent more than they did just four years ago. Gasoline, gift and healthcare spending have grown significantly, and the biggest spenders are men.
Those are just a few of the findings of the new Intuit Consumer Spending Index, which are from the actual, nearly real-time data anonymized and aggregated from Mint.com, Intuit’s leading online and mobile personal finance software. Overlaid with demographic information including age, gender, income and location (provided by Mint.com users if they so choose), this is the first report to accurately reflect the average American household’s spending – across ages and income levels, in every state – in a way that tracks to the current population.
The Intuit Consumer Spending Index tracks national spending averages from January 2009 to April 2013. The data shows that Americans are rebounding – with household spending up to approximately $4,220 per month in 2013 from $3,870 in 2009 (comparing first quarter of each calendar year).
The Intuit Consumer Spending Index tracks spending across all 50 states, shedding light on the impact that a person’s location has on his or her spending habits. Since January 2009, most states have seen an increase in spending – with some rising at a faster rate than others.
Arkansas and the District of Columbia saw the most dramatic recoveries – up 34 and 30 percent – with D.C. also spending the most per household this year ($5,144 a month).
North Carolina and South Carolina, by contrast, each saw spending decrease slightly, by three percent each.
Diving into The Data
The index tracks spending in these 20 categories:
- General Shopping
- Life Insurance
- Personal Care
- Public Transportation
- Bills & Utilities
Some Highlights Revealed:
- Gourmet goes mainstream: Grocery spending has increased by 17 percent, due in part to the price of premium groceries. For example, Californians are spending nearly 20 percent more at premium grocers like Whole Foods Market, while they’ve pulled back by three percent at more general grocers.
- No more reservations about restaurants: Restaurant spending has also increased, up 11 percent, echoing what Mint.com users say: Eating out is the first area they cut when they want to save money. The recovery sends them back out, especially those under 36, who are spending 40 percent more now.
- Wallets wide open at the pump: Gasoline is one of the fastest-growing categories, close to doubling in the time examined. The average American household spent $198 a month on gas in the first quarter of 2013, compared to $110 a month in the same time period in 2009. Continued high prices at the pump are the leading cause; the cost of crude oil has doubled from 2009 to 2013
Looking at how gas spending breaks down across state lines, Wyoming and Iowa were the hardest hit, with spending nearly tripling. On the other hand, Pennsylvania’s gas spending only increased 31 percent.
- Healthy, not wealthy: Healthcare spending has increased at one of the fastest rates since 2009, with average increases more than 30 percent. While older people (41-55) spend more than $300 each month, younger people saw the most dramatic increase. Their spending increased by more than 40 percent since the first quarter of 2009. For example, 26-31 year olds’ healthcare spending rose from $179 a month in the first quarter of 2009 to $252 a month so far this year.
- Gender gap: Men consistently spend $600 to $700 more a month than women. Where? In the first three months of 2013, men spent more on alcohol (37 percent), entertainment (27 percent), eating out (29 percent), gas (19 percent) and overall shopping (six percent). However, women spent 21 percent more on clothing and apparel.
- Growth in giving: Though overall spending has increased nine percent, a disproportionate amount of that is in gift giving and charitable donations, where Americans have become 47 percent more generous since 2009.
Behind the Numbers
The Intuit Consumer Spending Index is based on anonymized, non-identifiable aggregated data from the more than 2 million Mint.com users who have opted to provide demographic information including age, gender, income and location. This is a subset of the nearly 13 million people who use the personal finance software. The data has been analyzed and normalized to create a statistically relevant view that better represents the average American household.
The index measures spending habits from January 2009 to April 2013, reporting the average amount spent per account each month, across various spending and demographic categories. It allocates spending into 20 sub-categories, such as groceries, restaurants, gas and others, to show how consumers spend, where they cut when times are tough, and how they have rebounded with the economy. Spending patterns are also tracked by age, location, income and gender to measure the impact that demographic factors have on an individual’s spending habits.
The data tracks all consumer expenditures while excluding transactions such as transfers between financial accounts, withdrawals, deposits, income, such as paychecks or investment-related income (including stock and rental properties, etc.) or taxes. Cash purchases are also not captured in the index, as they are not automatically tracked in Mint.com.