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Consumer Spending Measure Flat in February

Deloitte’s Consumer Spending Index was largely flat in February, seeing “only a marginal change” amid moderate economic growth, the professional services company reported.

The index, which tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future spending, edged down slightly to 3.9 from a reading of 4.0 in January.

“The fundamentals for consumer spending remain stable,” said Daniel Bachman, senior U.S. economist for Deloitte. “While the economy continues to grow at a moderate pace, expect growth to accelerate over the next six to eighteen months, and the outlook for consumer spending to improve along with the economy.”

The index comprises four economic components: tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages, and real home prices.

According to Deloitte, the tax burden was the only component to remain unchanged, staying flat at 11.8 percent.

Real hourly wages continued their course of gradual increases, coming up 0.2 percent to $8.82; at the same time, the four-week moving average of initial unemployment claims fell 7 percent month-over-month to 332,600.

On the housing front, real new home prices dipped 2.3 percent from January’s $113,000, resting at $111,000 last month.

All things considered, the current environment is a perfect one for firms looking to move into new markets or enhance their offerings, says Alison Paul, vice chairman of Deloitte and sector leader of its Retail & Distribution segment.

“While businesses may be inclined to play it safe with regard to their investment strategies, the time may be right to make a strategic play now,” Paul said.

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