With the generally upbeat spending reports on black Friday and cyber-Monday, Gallup paints a different point of view in its most recent poll that shows U.S. Consumer Spending Holds Steady, Consistent With 2011

Americans’ self-reported daily spending averaged $73 in November, essentially on par with September and October. It is also similar to the $71 Americans spent last November and slightly higher compared with November 2010 and 2009 — but still much lower than in November 2008.

November 2012 vs. November Prior Years

U.S. Upper-Income Spending Sees Worst November on Record

Upper-income Americans’ (defined as those making at least $90,000 per year) self-reported daily spending was lower this November — an average of $113 — than in any November dating back to 2008. Upper-income spending has been trending downward since September, although the decline has not been large enough to drag down the overall spending figures.

Lower-income Americans’ spending in November — an average of $61 — is on par with the $60 they spent last November. Lower-income spending is generally quite stable from month to month and has been holding steady since March.

Bottom Line

Although November marks the beginning of the holiday season — generally a time for spending and splurging — Americans did not spend any more than usual this November, and upper-income Americans appear to be spending less than usual. Americans’ self-reported spending in November is on par with November 2011, matching Gallup’s finding that Americans predict they will spend about as much on holiday gifts this year as they did last year.

Note that both charts paint a different picture of holiday spending in the recovery. Spending levels did not recover to pre-recession levels, at least as reported in Gallup surveys.What consumers actually spend vs. what they report to Gallup might not be the same thing.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock