NEW YORK — Although consumer spending on apparel got a jolt in the second quarter, it still lags behind what shoppers dole out on furniture and other household goods.

During the first half of 2005, spending on apparel and shoes jumped 1.8 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter, while consumer expenditures on furniture and home goods gained 1.4 percent, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. But year-over-year, spending on clothes and shoes is up about 7 percent, while home goods spending is up 8.9 percent.

The data suggests that consumer reaction to spring fashions was positive, which backs up what analysts described as a “strong fashion cycle” in the spring.

Looking at spending on gas and oil shows that consumers had pulled back during the second quarter as oil topped $55 a barrel. From the first quarter to the second quarter, the pace of spending on gas and oil eased back 0.8 percent. Year-over-year, spending on gas and oil is up about 2.7 percent. It’s unclear how the recent hurricanes and rising fuel prices will impact consumer spending. Third-quarter expenditure results are due to be released at the end of December.

Regarding spending on medical care, consumers doled out 4.6 percent more in the second quarter of the year than they did in the same period last year. But from the first quarter to the second quarter, the rate of spending was up just 1 percent.

Over the next few weeks, economists will be eyeing several government reports to gauge the direction of consumer spending. This includes building permits and housing starts, which are reported next week. Both are expected to show slight declines, and could signal a deceleration in the housing market, which directly affects consumer spending on items for the home.

This story first appeared in the October 14, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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