U.S. consumers appeared to rein in the spending habits in September, as wages dipped alongside home prices, according to the most recent Consumer Spending Index from Deloitte. While conditions hardly imply weaker overall confidence or even prospects of another recession, the study provides a contrast to recent improvements in factory activity, retail sales and even employment.
The Index - which measures consumer tax burdens, unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices - dipped to 2.39 in September, down from 2.51 the month before.
"Consumers may start to re-evaluate what's in their shopping baskets and put non-essentials back on the shelf until they feel more confident about the economy's prospects," said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader at Deloitte.
"It's critical retailers understand consumers' purchasing behaviors and attitudes and are prepared to make quick decisions about which items to mark down and where to hold the line this holiday season," Paul added.
Despite the decline in September's spending trends, retail sales were up 1.1 percent, according to the Commerce Department, and a recent report from Accenture showed a large majority of consumers plan to spend as much or more this holiday season compared to last year's.