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Consumer spending, consumer demand, consumption, or consumption expenditure is the purchasing of goods and services by individuals or families. It is the largest part of aggregate demand at the macroeconomic level. There are two components of consumption in the basic model: induced consumption (which is affected by the level of income) and autonomous consumption (which is not).
Macroeconomic factors affecting spending
Taxes are a tool in the adjustment of the economy. Tax policies designed by governments affect consumer groups, net consumer spending and consumer confidence. Economists expect tax manipulation to increase or decrease consumer spending, though the precise impact of specific manipulations are often the subject of controversy.
Underlying tax manipulation as a stimulant or suppression of consumer spending is an equation for GDP. The equation is GDP = C + I + G + NX, where (GDP) is Gross Domestic Product or the value of all final goods and services provided in the economy, (C) is private consumption, (I) is private investment, (G) is government and (NX) is the net of exports minus imports. Increases in government spending create demand and economic expansion. Government spending increases may translate to tax increases or deficit spending. Thus, these expansions cannot be done without a potential negative impact on private consumption (C) or one of the other two elements, investment(I) or the net of exports and imports(NX).
Consumer sentiments are the attitudes of households and other entities toward the economy and the health of the fiscal markets, and they are a strong constituent of consumer spending. Sentiments have a powerful ability to cause fluctuations in the economy, because if the attitude of the consumer regarding the state of the economy is bad, then they will be reluctant to spend. Therefore sentiments prove to be a powerful predictor of the economy, because when people have faith in the economy or in what they believe will soon occur, they will spend and invest in confidence. However sentiments do not always affect the spending habits of some people as much as they do for others. For example, some households set their spending strictly off of their income, so that their income closely equals, or nearly equals their consumption (including savings). Others rely on their sentiments to dictate how they spend their income and such.
Government economic stimulus
In times of economic trouble or uncertainty, the government often tries to rectify the issue by distributing economic stimuli, often in the form of rebates or checks. However such techniques have failed in the past for several reasons. As was discussed earlier, temporary financial reprieve rarely succeeds because people do not often like rapidly shifting their spending habits. Also, people are many times intelligent enough to realize that economic stimulus packages are due to economic downturns, and therefore they are even more reluctant to spend them. Instead they put them into savings, which can potentially also help spur the economy. By putting money into savings, banks profit and are able to decrease the interest rates, which then encourage others to save less and promote future spending.
Oil is an extremely valuable and vital resource to economies and societies everywhere. There is a strong relationship between the increase in oil prices and real growth in the economy. When a society suffers a disturbance in energy supplies, there is potential for a shock to expensive consumption or investment goods that are heavily dependent on energy, like motor vehicles and machinery. This is because disruption in energy supplies creates uncertainty regarding availability and upcoming prices of these supplies. Often consumers attempt to delay the purchase of such items until they have a better idea of what energy prices are going to look like after the subsiding of the disruption. Increases in the price of oil means a greater portion of the consumer’s income is required to purchase oil, and therefore less can be used in the purchase of other goods. Oil price changes, both increases and decreases, have an extremely potent effect on allocation channels.
Luxury consumer spending in the United States
In the United States in 2007 luxury goods accounted for a $157 billion industry. In the period between 1979–2003, household income grew 1% for the bottom fifth of households, 9% for the middle fifth, and 49% for the top fifth with household income more than doubling (up 111%) for the top 1%. If the above trend had been reversed, there wouldn’t be nearly as many extravagant luxury items on the market such as $1 million cars and $45 million private jets. Even in such a slowing economy, there is still a big market to get consumers to spend their money on luxury items.
While consumerism may not be an inevitable stage in industrial development, it has been a frequent choice made within complex cultural, political, and social contexts. This supports the earlier claims about American’s desire for luxury goods and how the top 1% are the ones that can afford them. It explains the reasons how industrialism helped consumerism along by providing the goods but at the same time it hurt consumerism for the people who kept the industrial world running. This happened because the workers were so busy trying to make their living making these goods that when it came down to trying to buy any luxury goods they either didn’t have enough money or they didn’t have the time to buy or use the luxury goods. That simple fact is what helped along the upper 1% gain 30% of the nation's [consumer economy].
In 1929, consumer spending was 75% of the nation's economy. This grew to 83% in 1932, when business spending dropped. Consumer spending dropped to about 50% during World War II due to large expenditures by the government and lack of consumer products. Consumer spending in the US rose from about 62% of GDP in 1960, where it stayed until about 1981, and has since risen to 71% in 2013.
In the United States, the Consumer Spending figure published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis includes three broad categories of personal spending.
- Durable goods: motor vehicles and parts, furnishings and durable household equipment, recreational goods and vehicles, and other durable goods.
- Nondurable goods: food and beverages purchased for off-premises consumption, clothing and footwear, gasoline and other energy goods, and other nondurable goods.
- Services: housing and utilities, health care, transportation services, recreation services, food services and accommodations, financial services and insurance, and other services.
For U.S. domestic consumer spending by population and income demographics collected by the U.S Census Bureau at the household level and analyzed and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, see the link at BLS.gov/CEX
- Horton, Mark (28 March 2012). "Fiscal Policy: Giving and Taking Away". Finance & Development. International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- American Chamber of Commerce (2007). Snapshot of the U.S. Luxury Goods Market.
- Caserta, Kimberly (12 Mar 2009). Luxury Good Demand. Boston College.
- Cross, Gary (1993). Time and Money: The Making of Consumer Culture.
- "Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE)/Gross Domestic Product (GDP)" FRED Graph, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis