See it again

    1. DataView:
      How We Spend

      Annual Change (%, not adjusted for inflation)
    2. Let's take a look at the powerhouse of consumerism, retail spending — mindful that consumer purchases drive about 70% of economic growth in the U.S.

      Annual Change (%, not adjusted for inflation)
    3. Changes in retail spending closely track changes in the broader economy.

      Annual Change (%, not adjusted for inflation)
    4. Retail spending also correlates strongly with GDP — except the data come out much sooner.

      Annual Change (%, not adjusted for inflation)
    5. Now let's see what drives those changes in spending, based on what people buy.

      Composition of Retail Sales Growth (YoY change in dollars spent)
    6. The impact of housing's ups and downs are clearly visible in spending on furniture, home improvement, and appliances but spending on health and wellness (pharmacies, opticians, etc) appears invulnerable, even during recessions...

      Sector Sales (1992 = 100)
    7. ... Moreover, spending on pharmaceuticals and medical products now accounts for 10 percent of total goods consumption — up from 4 percent in 1990 and 6 percent as recently as 1999.

      Spending on home furnishings, by contrast, is now worth just 7 percent of total goods spending — down from 9 percent in 2006.

      Sector Sales (1992 = 100)
    8. Consumers have also been ditching physical stores for mail-order catalogs and online shopping.

      Sector Sales (1992 = 100)
    9. Despite rapid growth so far, only about 10 percent of nondurable goods (most things except cars, appliances, and furniture) are bought over the internet so the pain for brick-and-mortar outfits may only just be beginning.

    10. The biggest driver of changes in retail spending, however, comes from cars and gasoline, so let's zoom in on that.

      People buy cars when they can get loans to help them do so. Lending dried up during the recent recession and so did auto purchases.

    11. Our auto tastes have also shifted. Pickup trucks and SUVs supplanted traditional cars as Americans' preferred way of getting around in the 1990s.

      Used car and truck purchases have enjoyed a boom, too.

      Motor Vehicle spending as a share of total goods consumption
    12. Still, motor vehicle spending has fallen significantly as a share of total spending over the past 10 years. A big reason is that cars haven't gone up in price, while other things have — especially gasoline.

      Falling oil prices from the mid-1980s onwards helped make pickups and SUVs more affordable, while soaring prices in the 2000s took money out of consumers' pockets and made gas-guzzlers less attractive.

      Spending as a share of total goods consumption
    13. So what does all of this say about how we spend?

      More on drugs and gas, and less on furniture, appliances, home improvement supplies — and cars!

      Perhaps most important, we're still not buying that much online — a category that appears to have ample room to grow.

      Bloomberg View

      Spending as a share of total goods consumption