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Consumer Commerce Declined 0.5 Percent in December 2017, According to New JPMorgan Chase Institute Data

Only 6 of 14 metro areas registered positive growth in December 2017

Houston, still recovering from Harvey, registers fourth straight month of positive growth, and largest growth among all metro areas

April 3, 2018, (Washington, D.C.) – Today, the JPMorgan Chase Institute released its Local Consumer Commerce Index (LCCI) for December 2017, which showed that local spending declined 0.5 percent from December 2016, a notable decrease from the 1.8 percent increase that was registered in November 2017. While half of the 14 metro areas analyzed experienced a decline, spending in six metro areas analyzed increased, and one remained flat. Houston, which posted its fourth straight month of positive year-over-year growth after Hurricane Harvey, had the highest year-over-year growth rate among all cities, with 2 percent increase. Miami, with a positive year-over-year growth rate of 0.7 percent, was the only metro area east of the Mississippi River to register positive year-over-year growth in December 2017.

In late February, the JPMorgan Chase Institute released a series of briefs on the financial impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on consumers, businesses and local commerce. That report found a notable increase in spending activity as the Houston and Miami communities recovered from their respective hurricanes.

Year-over-year growth in small metro-areas remained flat in December 2017, while large and mid-sized metro areas saw respective declines of 0.6 percent and 0.2 percent compared to December 2016.

“Spending at local merchants took a hit in the 2017 holiday season, with a 0.5 percent decline compared to December spending in 2016,” said Diana Farrell, President and CEO, JPMorgan Chase Institute. “With seven of our cities registering negative year-over-year growth, it appears that shopping at local brick and mortar locations took a dive this holiday season.  Even in cities that registered year-over-year growth, only Houston saw an increase greater than 1 percent over spending that took place in December 2016.”

Data visualization of the changes in year-over-year local consumer spending growth over the last 24 months can be found online.

This LCCI report provides a timely view of how the following cities and surrounding metro areas are faring economically, both individually and in aggregate: Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Portland (Ore.), San Diego and San Francisco. By looking at actual, de-identified financial transactions, the LCCI offers an ongoing, dynamic view of the financial health of the U.S. consumer and the vibrancy of the places where businesses operate.

Additional key highlights from the latest Index include:

  • Houston, with 2.0 percent year-over-year growth, was the only metro area to register year-over-year growth greater than 0.8 percent (San Francisco)
  • Three months after Hurricane Irma, year-over-year spending in Miami grew 0.7 percent. This is its third consecutive month of year-over-year growth.
  • Miami was the only LCC metro area east of the Mississippi River to register positive year-over-year growth.
  • Dallas registered the lowest growth rate among all 14 cities, with 2.2 percent decline in year-over-year growth, indicating spending patterns were not uniform across Texas.
  • Consumers under 35 contributed 1.5 percent in year-over-year growth while consumers 55 and over subtracted 1.7 percentage points from year-over-year growth.
  • Spending on restaurants contributed 0.4 percentage points to year-over-year growth, while spending on non-durable goods subtracted one percentage point from year-over-year growth.
  • Low income consumers contributed 0.8 percentage points of year-over-year growth while spending among high income consumers remained flat.
  • Large businesses contributed 1.2 percentage points to year-over-year growth, while small business contributed 0.6 percentage points to year-over-year growth and contributions from mid-sized businesses remained flat.

The LCCI offers unique advantages over existing measures of consumer spending. 

  • The LCCI captures actual transactions, instead of self-reported measures of how consumers think they spend.
  • The LCCI provides timely data on spending in 14 major metropolitan areas; such geographic granularity is unavailable in most other spending measures. These 14 metro areas mirror the geographic and economic diversity of larger metropolitan areas in the United States and account for 30 percent of retail sales nationwide.
  • The LCCI also presents a more granular view of local consumer commerce through five important lenses: consumer age, consumer income, business size, product type, and consumer residence relative to the location of the business. For each lens, we show how different segments contributed to year-over-year spending growth.
  • The LCCI captures economic activity in sectors that previously have not been well understood by other data sources.   These include sectors such as food trucks, new merchants, and personal services.

Each release of the LCCI describes the economic picture of local communities and provides a powerful tool for metro area development officials, businesses, investors, and statistical agencies to better understand the everyday economic health of consumers, businesses, and the places they care about.


About the JPMorgan Chase Institute
The JPMorgan Chase Institute is a think tank dedicated to delivering data-rich analyses and expert insights for the public good. Its aim is to help decision makers–policymakers, businesses, and nonprofit leaders–appreciate the scale, granularity, diversity, and interconnectedness of the global economic system and use better facts, timely data, and thoughtful analysis to make smarter decisions to advance global prosperity. Drawing on JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s unique proprietary data, expertise, and market access, the Institute develops analyses and insights on the inner workings of the global economy, frames critical problems, and convenes stakeholders and leading thinkers. For more information visit: JPMorganChaseInstitute.com