Americans Are Spending Less On Their Credit Cards, Lenders Say

July 12, 2022 7:52 pm
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Americans dialed back spending on their credit cards in June, pointing to another weak month of US retail sales, according to two major lenders.

Barclays economists led by Pooja Sriram said their internal credit-card numbers suggest that retail sales may have dropped 0.4% last month, which would be a second straight decline. “Recent data suggest that the US consumer might be starting to pull back on spending,” they wrote in a research note Monday. That has “led us to question if a sharper slowdown in consumer spending is around the corner.”

Losing Steam?

Source: US Census Bureau
Meanwhile, Bank of America said its own card data points to a 0.3% gain in spending per household for the month. The BofA economists said gasoline prices, which hit a record high in June, are forcing consumers to cut back on other spending. “The card data suggest there is a risk that real (inflation-adjusted) consumer spending declined for the second consecutive month,” they wrote in a report Monday.

Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of the US economy, and the retail sales data for June — which is due out on Friday — will be closely watched for signs of recession risk. The median forecast among analysts surveyed by Bloomberg is for a 0.9% gain from the previous month.

With inflation at four-decade highs, soaring costs for essentials like food and energy are leaving households with less cash for spending on other goods and services. The Federal Reserve is attempting to rein in prices with an aggressive interest-rate hiking cycle, aimed at cooling consumer demand.

The Barclays model shows that credit-card spending at gas stations surged, while there was a decline in outlays on cars, health care and general merchandise.

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