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US consumers continued the increased spending pattern that began in January 2009 into February 2009, spending slightly more in February than they the previous month, even as personal income and disposable personal income levels took small dips, according to a report from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (via Retailer Daily).

Highlights from the report appear below.

Consumer Spending Rises, Income and Savings Fall

  • Personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2% in February, following a 1% increase in January.
  • Personal income in current dollars decreased 0.2% in February, following a 0.2% increase in January.


  • Disposable personal income in current dollars decreased 0.1% in February, following a 1.6% increase in January.
  • Personal saving as a percentage of income was 4.2% in February, compared with 4.4% in January.


While any increase in personal consumption expenditures by consumers is a positive for US retailers, this is tempered by declines in personal and disposable personal income, the report found. There have been a number of mixed positive and negative economic and consumer behavior signals so far this year.

Positive Signals:

  • Online shopping activity is showing signs of improvement.
  • The US trade deficit shrank in January 2009, although declining consumer demand drove the reduction.
  • Personal spending, income and savings levels of US consumers increased in January 2009.
  • The Restaurant Performance Index rose in January 2009.

Negative Signals:

  • The US GDP shrank 6.3% in Q4 2008.
  • Total spending for the Easter holiday is expected to decline.
  • Mexico applied retaliatory tariffs to 89 US products in March 2009.
  • US retail and food services sales fell in February 2009.
  • US unemployment hit 8.1% in February 2009.
  • The Consumer Confidence Index reached an historic low of 25.0 in February 2009.
Source: Consumer Spending on the Upswing