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Consumer Commerce Saw Second Month of Record-Setting Volatility, According to JPMorgan Chase Institute

7.6 percentage point swing between April and May outpaces 5.9 percentage point swing between March and April, previous largest change since LCCI launched

First time since January 2016 that all metro areas registered positive growth

August 29, 2018, (Washington, D.C.) – Today, the JPMorgan Chase Institute released its Local Consumer Commerce Index (LCCI) for May 2018, which showed an increase of 3.6 percent across the 14 metro areas analyzed. The increase in year-over-year spending for May represented the single-largest increase (a 7.2 percentage point swing) in the series, following last month’s record setting decrease of 3.6 percent. It is the second consecutive month of record-setting volatility since the LCCI launched in 2015.

In stark contrast to April, which saw widespread negative growth, May was the first time since January 2016 that all metro areas registered positive growth. Among the 14 markets analyzed, Columbus (6.3 percent), Houston (6.0 percent) and Detroit (5.9 percent) led the way. Consumers under the age of 35 contributed 2.0 percent to year-over-year growth and those in the lowest income quintile contributed 1.2 percent to growth.

“The record spending volatility we’ve seen in recent months highlights many of the challenges facing business owners across the country,” said Diana Farrell, President and CEO, JPMorgan Chase Institute. “Despite this volatility, positive spending contributions in May were widespread across all index segments, including consumers of all ages and incomes and businesses of all sizes. Policymakers and businesses alike should pay attention to how these trends develop in the coming months.”

Data visualization of the changes in 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 release include:

  • Columbus led all metro areas with an increase of 6.3 percent, a 12-point swing from last month’s negative growth rate of 5.7 percent.
  • Increased local consumer spending in Detroit of 5.9 percent drove an 11.4 percentage point swing in spending at local merchants compared to April’s negative growth rate.
  • Nine of the 14 cities registered positive growth of 4.0 percent or more.
  • Four of the five cities (Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego) with the smallest growth rates were located on the West coast.
  • Houston had the largest growth rate among large metro areas with 6.0 percent.
  • The unweighted average in growth among large metro areas was an increase of 4.2 percent, with small and mid-sized metros following at 4.0 and 3.6 percent growth, respectively.
  • Small businesses contributed 1.5 percentage point to growth in May, followed by large businesses with 1.4 percentage point and mid-sized businesses with 0.7 percentage point contributions to growth.
  • Fuel spending continued to be a driver of growth, contributing 1.2 percentage points to May’s growth.

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 city 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 global 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