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    Poll: Consumers' Daily Spending has Stabilized

    The $59 per day average is a 15-month low.

    By Mark Dolliver, Adweek

    NEW YORK -- A Gallup report released last week offers a classic good news/bad news package: The good news is that American consumers' daily spending "appears to be stabilizing;" the bad news is that it's doing so "at the lowest levels of the past 15 months, when Gallup began daily tracking of these trends."

    In Gallup's polling throughout March, "Americans' self-reported spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations and online averaged $59 per day," putting the figure "down slightly from $64 during both January and February but also down 27 percent from $81 in March 2008." Though the March number is at a 15-month low, "the rate of decline relative to a year ago has moderated substantially." If nothing else, Gallup adds, the March numbers are "far better than the free fall in consumer spending of January and February that took place after a dismal holiday period."

    The pattern of daily spending for respondents with income of $90,000-plus has bounced around from month to month this year, from $110 in January to $121 in February to $107 in March. While the March figure is a new low for the affluent cohort, it's down a mere 3 percent from that of March 2008.

    In its own analysis of the data, Gallup concludes with the cautionary note that the improvement in consumers' mood last month "is built more on hope than on an assessment of the current economic reality." And even hope is relatively thin on the ground, with a non-landslide 23 percent of respondents saying they believe economic conditions are improving.

    -- Source: Adweek

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