Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of all economic activity, making it the most significant part of the gross domestic product (value of all goods and services produced in a country). There are different figures to assess consumer spending, and they are published for free by public authorities.
- The Personal income and outlays statistics are published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and track personal income and monthly spendings. Personal income is defined as the income of an individual citizen of the US as a dollar value from any source. Personal outlays can be viewed from different perspectives. Generally, they can be divided into durable and non-durable goods and services (goods and services that are consumed). Details for the calculation can be found at the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).
- Retail sales are an indicator of the demand of consumers for finished goods. They indicate the current state of the economy and give a projection on how it may advance.
- The Consumer price index measures changes in the price of the shopping cart (or basket) of a typical inhabitant of a country. It includes consumer goods and services purchased by private households. The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates it. It is an indicator of inflation in a country. Inflation influences interest rates as well as investment decisions of businesses
All necessary data can be found at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Personal income and outlays can be found in Table 2.6. The Personal Income graph shows that during a crisis the personal income goes down. Therefore, this indicator is retrospective and rather gives an idea when a crisis might be over. It does not predict any crisis.
Personal consumption expenditures can also be found there. The personal consumption is also a lagging indicator and cannot predict a crisis but rather indicate when a crisis might be over.
Real Personal Consumption Expenditures show the increase of the personal consumption compared to the preceding period. As the other consumer-related indicators it is a lagging indicator that can become negative during a crisis. It rather shows when a crisis is approaching its end.
Retail sales can be found at the consensus. It is also a lagging indicator.
The Consumer price index can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is a lagging indicator that goes down in the course of a crisis.