Deloitte Consumer Spending Index hits new high

Gains are encouraging, but still indicate consumer caution

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December 11, 2009

The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index rose in November to its highest level since 2004, driven largely by the decrease in initial unemployment claims along with historically low tax levels. The Index attempts to track consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

The Index, comprising four components -- tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices -- rose to 4.63 percent, from an upwardly revised gain of 4.25 percent a month ago.

"While the recent gains in consumer spending have been encouraging, they are on the moderate side as a result of ongoing consumer caution," said Stacy Janiak, vice chairman and Deloitte's U.S. Retail leader. "With household credit conditions remaining weak, retailers may consider offering financing or other services to provide consumers with needed access to credit, along with convenient and flexible payment terms. These services may include layaway, co-branded store cards, online payment options and deferred billing, for example."