U.S. Consumer Spending Up in July



U.S. consumer spending rose 0.8 percent in July, according to the Commerce Department.

Consumer spending rose to $88.4 billion, a 0.5 percent increase from June when adjusting for inflation. The Commerce Department also revised its June numbers, showing a 0.1 percent decline in spending, rather than a 0.2 decline.

“The percent change was the highest since August of 2009, when it increased 1.2 percent,” Kyle Brown, chief of personal consumption expenditures for the Bureau of Economic Analysis, tells JCK. He also pointed out that February showed a matching 0.8 uptick. “The increase in July primarily reflects strong estimates of new motor vehicles, gasoline and other energy goods, and electricity and gas services.”

Brown also noted that even when adjusted for inflation, the percentage increase is the highest since August of 2009, when it increased 0.9 percent, and December of 2009, which also showed a rise of 0.5 percent.

Personal income increased 0.3 percent to $42.4 billion, with disposable income increasing to $32.5 million. Proprietors’ income increased $3.2 billion in July, compared with an increase of $0.9 billion in June. Personal savings, however, dropped to $582.8 billion, compared to $638.6 billion in June.

For the jewelry industry, July was a mixed bag, with some retailers experiencing significant sales increases, while others’ sales stayed flat or rose slightly.  

“July was a very good month for us,” says Mathew Rosenheim, president of Tiny Jewel Box in Washington, D.C. “Sales were up 18 percent compared to July 2010, with good day-to-day sales and a few ‘pops’ with larger ticket sales peppered in.”

Linda Breakiron, owner of Breakiron Jewelers in Erie, Pa., tells JCK that the store’s sales were about the same compared to last year. “We noticed a little more interest in bridal jewelry in July, spending thresholds for those shopping for engagement jewelry in July were down about 10 percent, and people mentioned the price of gold being an issue. They were more closely watching personal finances,” she says.

“Sales for July were slightly up, about 1 percent,” says Thom Duma, owner of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, Ohio. “I think a lot of what kept people from spending more in July was all the talk about the debt ceiling, rising gold prices, and other economic issues that seemed to shake up consumer confidence.”