U.S. Consumer Spending & Inflation Report: September 2023

Report summary

U.S. consumers reported lower spending in August after splurging on discretionary services and retail goods through the early part of the summer. An energy-driven bump in inflation, rising debt obligations and a gently cooling labor market appear to be pushing some consumers to renew their focus on financial stability.

Key Takeaways

  • Consumers pulled back on spending in August as more households prioritized saving and paying down credit card debt.
  • Heading into the fall, spending on discretionary categories is likely to wane as younger and higher-earning adults, who have propped up these categories, begin to pull back on their spending.
  • Inflation picked up in August, driven mainly by higher energy costs, as elevated prices for a range of goods and services continue to impact purchasing decisions.

About the authors

A headshot photograph of Kayla Bruun
Kayla Bruun
Senior Economist

Kayla Bruun is a senior economist at decision intelligence company Morning Consult, where she analyzes consumer spending, inflation and household finance trends, leveraging the company’s proprietary high-frequency data.

Prior to joining Morning Consult, Kayla was a key member of the corporate strategy team at telecommunications company SES, where she produced market intelligence and industry analysis of mobility markets. 

Kayla also served as an economist at IHS Markit, where she covered global services industries, provided price forecasts, produced written analyses and served as a subject-matter expert on client-facing consulting projects. 

Kayla earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Emory University and an MBA with a certificate in nonmarket strategy from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Follow her on Twitter @KaylaBruun. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected]

A headshot photograph of Sofia Baig
Sofia Baig

Sofia Baig is an economist at decision intelligence company Morning Consult, where she works on descriptive and predictive analysis that leverages Morning Consult’s proprietary high-frequency data. Previously, she worked for the Federal Reserve Board as a quantitative analyst, focusing on topics related to monetary policy and bank stress testing. She received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Pomona College and a master’s degree in mathematics and statistics from Georgetown University.

Follow her on Twitter @_SofiaBaig_For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected]