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Holiday Spending Up, Despite Lowered Economic Optimism

Holiday spending this shopping season is exceeding expectations, so much so that Americans are spending well above last year's average. CNBC's All-America Economic Survey, conducted on a quarterly basis, saw a spending surge in the final quarter of 2018 to an average of more than $1,100 compared to last year's average of just over $900.

According to the report, the latest findings mark the first time holiday spending averaged more than $1,000. The four-day survey included responses from 802 Americans, more than a quarter who said they would use credit cards or other debt for holiday purchases.

However, economists are also questioning why holiday spending is flourishing when the same survey found the biggest quarterly drop in American economic optimism levels since it began in 2006.

"The reason may have to do with stronger wage gains and employment over the past year, compared with what people expect next year," CNBC reported on Dec. 12. "Unemployment this year hit a 50-year low of 3.7%. Wage gains the past two months topped 3% year-over-year for the first time since the end of the financial crisis."

More than half of respondents said higher income and pay were reasons behind increased spending, while only a tenth said they were spending more because of an improving economy. Americans who described the economy as "excellent or good" dropped a staggering eight points, bringing the total to 50%—still the fourth-highest in the survey's history. Meanwhile, another decrease was recorded in those who believe the economy will improve, now at 31%.

—Andrew Michaels, editorial associate
Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for December 1...
Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for December 1...

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Friday, 18 January 2019