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Swiping Credit CardThe Deloitte Consumer Spending Index (“Index”) increased in January, reaching its highest level since September 2010. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

“The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index increased in January, hitting a 51-month peak,” says Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s senior U.S. economist. “The increase is due to positive contributions from all four components of the Index. The sharp drop in unemployment insurance claims is in line with a steady recovery in the U.S. labor market and augurs well for continued increased consumer spending. Additionally, January gas prices decreased 41 percent from this time last year, to a national average of $2.12 per gallon. That translates into an extra $994 in consumers’ pockets annually.”

The Index, which comprises four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — increased to 4.8 this month from 4.2 last month.

Highlights of the Index include:

Tax Burden: The tax rate was effectively unchanged from the last month, remaining steady at 11.9 percent.

Initial Unemployment Claims: Claims decreased to 291,000 from 299,600 last month, and are down 15.6 percent from the same period last year.

Real Wages: Real hourly wages were up 0.2 percent from last month and 1.1 percent from the same period last year, increasing to $8.94 this month.

Real Median New Home Price: New home prices increased 2.6 percent from the prior month to $126,000. Prices are 7.2 percent higher than the same period last year.

For more information please visit www.deloitte.com/us/retail-distribution.

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