Where Do Consumers Spend the Most Money? (Answer Will Likely Surprise You)

In Dealers “Wildly Overweight” SUVs as Sales Slow, I commented “Vehicles account for 20% of retail spending. A crash or even a significant slowdown will impact retail sales and thus GDP.”

A reader asked me how I calculated that. Let’s take a look.

My number came from the latest Census Department Advance Retail Sales Report.

Here are some charts I created from 7-month totals (January-July) 2017.

Retail Sales in Millions of Dollars

Retail Sales Category Percentages

Key Points

  • Motor vehicles and parts account for 21.18% of retail sales. Gasoline stations account for 7.94%. Together that adds up to 29.12%.
  • Food and beverage stores (grocery and liquor stores) account for 12.62 percent of retail sales. Food services and drinking places (restaurants and bars) account for 12.14. The food and drink total is 24.76%.
  • Nonstore retailers (think Amazon) account 10.39% of retail sales.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock