As summer wound to a close, spending on books and office supplies surged while spending at movie theaters and toy stores dwindled, suggesting that folks were ready to get back to school and work after a summer of play.
The Chase Freedom Lifestyle Index tracked the spending of Chase Freedom cardholders throughout the third quarter of 2014 and found that while people had summers full of road trips and sports activities, by the time summer wrapped up in September they had turned to back-to-school shopping.
July and August saw spending on tolls up by 17% compared with the same time period in 2013, suggesting that many road trips were taken over the summer months. Looking at month-to-month spending, spending at sporting goods stores increased by 8% from July to August—a sign of summers filled with outdoor activities.
Lessons, classes, and books take a bite out of budgets
Book spending rose 13% year-over-year. Spending on lessons and classes rose 6%. Back-to-school season generally sees an uptick in electronics spending, and this year was no exception. Consumer electronics saw a 9% jump in spending, perhaps due to tablet, e-reader, laptop, smartphone and other digital device purchases by students and their parents.
Other categories that saw an increase in spending from the third quarter of 2013 compared to the third quarter of 2014 included craft stores (up 7%) and recreational facilities (up 2%).
Drops in spending at movie theaters and more
Chase Freedom cardholders didn’t go to the movies as frequently this summer as last, at least judging by the charges they put on their credit cards. Movie theater spending was down 25% year over year during the third quarter of 2014. Toy store spending also dropped to the tune of 10%.
Grocery spending had a small downturn, with a 1% decrease during the summer months of 2014 compared with summer 2013. Food prices were higher during the third quarter of 2014 due to a nationwide drought, perhaps explaining consumers’ reluctance to pull out their plastic at the grocery store.
The Chase Freedom Lifestyle Index comes out each quarter and is based on aggregated spending data from Chase Freedom cardholders. Rather than asking people how they are spending their money, the index tracks how much they are actually charging to their credit cards, and represents a broad sample of consumers across all regions and demographics of the U.S.