BEA Data Provide a Look into America’s Shopping Carts


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Consumer Spending Graphic
Consumer Spending Graphic

America’s consumers spent more than $12 trillion last year on all kinds of stuff, including new cars, furniture, clothes, groceries, beauty products, electronics, visits to doctors and dentists, and tickets to sporting events and movies.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis produces a slew of data on what people buy and how much they spend.  It’s a critical piece of economic information.  Consumer spending is a major shaper of the overall U.S. economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of GDP.  Beyond that, the statistics can help entrepreneurs and other business people make more informed decisions, offering insights into shoppers’ buying behavior.

Nationwide consumer spending statistics are available on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. State-by-state statistics detailing consumer spending are also now available.  BEA started producing annual state consumer spending data on a regular basis in 2015. All of BEA’s consumer spending data are accessible from an interactive database on our website.  And, they are all free.

In BEA’s most recent report, released Feb. 26, consumer spending across the country grew by 0.5 percent in January, the most since May. Spending on durable goods, costly manufactured items like cars and furniture, led the way, rising 1.2 percent in January from the previous month.  Consumers’ incomes, the fuel for spending growth, also rose 0.5 percent in January, the largest increase since May.    

The consumer spending statistics are among the millions of economic data points that BEA produces and are one example of the kind of economic intelligence that BEA makes available to the public, businesses, students, researchers and policymakers.     

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker likes to say that the department is “America’s data agency.”   The reach, depth and breadth of the data flowing out of the Commerce Department are unrivaled in the federal government.   Making Commerce’s data even more accessible to the American public is one of the key pillars of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda.”

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Last updated: 2016-03-16 11:38

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