Consumer Spending Provides Clues About Local Economy

Last month we reported that consumer spending in Leon County, as tracked by gross sales reported to the Florida Department of Revenue, grew approximately 1% in 2015. However, after FDOR revisions to the data, spending in 2015 was only up by .1% when compared to 2015.

The good news is that 2016 consumer spending in Leon County is off to a better start than in 2015. Given the fact that last years decrease in spending was followed by significant job loses, consumer spending in the first quarter of 2016 should bode well for employment.

The bar chart below compares first quarter spending trends in Leon County since 2012. The chart shows the steady increase from 2012 through 2014 and then the significant decrease in 2015. The local economy rebounded from the lag in spending at the beginning of 2015, but could only match spending in 2014.

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For this year, while not at the 2014 pace, spending is starting out above 2012,2013 and 2015. The table below shows seven of the major contributors to growth in Leon County spending during the first quarter of this year as compared to 2015.

The group was led by the Consumer Electronics and Computer category with a 28% increase in spending over the same period last year. Next in line was Hotel/Motel Accommodations with 10.1% in growth. Home Furnishings and Building Material made the top seven, growing at 9.5% and 2.8%, respectively. This is not surprising given the single-family home resale and new construction activity we report on this month.

Last year consumer spending with Automotive Dealers was up 11.2% for the year. This year, the industry sector is up 8.5%.
Also, last year restaurant spending was up 5.8%. This category begins the first quarter of 2016 by almost matching all of last years growth with 5.1%.

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