With the winter fast approaching, consumers have already begun to stock up on warmer clothes. This has contributed towards consumer spending increasing faster in September than it has in the past 3 years. According to Visa Europe’s UK expenditure index, sales in August increased by 1.2pc, but in September they rose month-on-month by 3pc.
But whilst sales on the high-street increased, sales on-line and over the telephone declined. It seems that the recent decrease in temperature is just what the retail sector ordered, as people took to the high streets.
Furthermore, recent improvements in consumer income, together with lower inflation and rising employment have all contributed towards a growth in spending. However, as consumer confidence remains at a relatively low level, it is unlikely that the winter will bring much of a change to growth in the economy. The Chief Economist at Markit said:
However, consumer confidence remains historically low as uncertainty about the economy and job security persists, suggesting that the bounce in spending seen in the third quarter could be as good as it gets for the foreseeable future.
Although the lower temperature has caused a boost in consumption, once people have made their ‘investment’ in warmer clothes, retail spending may once again decline. Hence the above comment by Markit, which suggests that further sustained increases in consumer spending may still be some way off.
The following few articles look at the latest data on retail spending.
UK consumer spending ‘rose in September’ BBC News (5/10/12)
Consumer spending increases by 3pc The Telegraph (5/10/12)
Consumer spending increases by 3% The Press Association (5/10/12)
UK retail sales: what the analysts say Guardian (20/9/12)
Online sales and wet weather boost John Lewis Scotsman, Peter Ranscombe (5/10/12)
- Which factors typically affect consumer spending?
- Using a diagram, illustrate the impact of this increase in consumption on national output and the price level.
- Is it possible that a multiplier effect may occur with the August and September rise in retail sales?
- Why is consumer confidence remaining low? Which components of aggregate demand does it affect?
- Explain why (a) lower inflation, (b) the colder weather and (c) rising employment have caused consumer spending to rise.