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Americans spent $76 a day in December, highest of 2011

January 06, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu
  • Pedestrians carry shopping bags as they shop in San Francisco on Dec. 22.
Pedestrians carry shopping bags as they shop in San Francisco on Dec. 22. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg )

Americans' daily spending rose slightly to $76 in December in the highest monthly average of last year, though analysts suspect that consumers offset holiday purchases by cutting back on routine costs, according to a Gallup poll.

Consumers spent more during the holiday month than they did in November, when they shelled out $71 a day, according to the survey. But it’s not much of a change compared with December 2010, when daily costs ran about $75.

And Gallup experts believe that last month’s spending boost came at the expense of normal spending on groceries, gas, clothing and dining out. Retailers reported holiday sales that were up 3.3% compared with 2010.

The year-long average for daily spending last year was $67, up a few dollars from 2010 and 2009 but still far below the $96 daily amount recorded for 2008.

The slide is consistent regardless of income. Consumers making more than $90,000 a year spent $121 a day in 2011, down 17% from their $146-a-day stipend in 2008. For Americans with less than $24,000 in income, it’s a steeper slide – down 38% to $41 a day from $66.

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