In its most recent analysis of household expenditures, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said consumers are spending significantly more on apparel for the year-over-year period reported while also doling out more money on health care and education.
The periods analyzed were July 2013 to June 2014 and July 2014 to June 2015, and do not include the holiday shopping period, which was described as “lackluster” for 2015 by analysts and economists.
In the period through June 2015, average annual expenditures rose 5.9 percent to $54,992 from $51,933 in the prior year while average annual income before taxes gained 6.6 percent to $68,662 from $64,432.
The spending segments that had the greatest gains were: education with a 19.2 percent year-over-year increase; health and insurance with an 18.6 percent gain, and apparel (men’s, women’s, children, accessories and footwear) with a 12.6 percent increase. Spending on health care rose 11 percent while gasoline expenditures declined 12 percent.
Although apparel spending showed a year-over-year gain, the share of wallet barely nudged, rising only 20 basis points to 3.4 percent in the most recent period. This compares to a 30 percent basis point increase to 11 percent for spending on personal insurance and pensions and a 30 basis point gain to 2.5 percent for education. The share of household spending on health care increased 60 basis points to 5.4 percent.
The BLS analysts said the gain in apparel spending follows a 1.9 percent decline in the previous year-over-year report. “Increases were seen across all components of this category: men and boys, women and girls, children under two, footwear and other apparel products and services,” the analysts noted.
With health care, BLS said the level of spending has “increased every year annually from 1996 through 2014.” The BLS said the gain in health insurance expenditures is “up over three percentage points from the previous midyear period.”
Regarding the jump in education expenditures, the BLS said the “rise was driven by increases in spending on college tuition and finance charges for student loans.” Retail analysts have noted for the past year that student debt is a heavy burden — especially for Millennials — that is impacting spending on other segments such as apparel.