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Coldest April in 21 Years Led to 3.6 Percent Drop in Consumer Commerce, According to New JPMorgan Chase Institute Data

Columbus, Chicago, Detroit and New York all see drops of 5.5 percent or more, compared to April 2017

5.9 percent drop from March is largest swing since LCCI launched, sees Denver as the only city with positive growth

August 13, 2018, (Washington D.C.) – Today, the JPMorgan Chase Institute released its Local Consumer Commerce Index (LCCI) for April 2018, which showed a dramatic drop of 3.6 percent across 13 of the 14 metro areas analyzed. The drop in year-over-year spending for April represented the single-largest drop in the series. The 3.6 percent decline in monthly spending represents a 5.9 percent point swing from March’s positive growth rate of 2.3 percent.

April’s negative growth was wide-spread, with four cities experiencing a decline of 5.5 percent or more, and an additional three cities experiencing a drop of 3.4 percent or more. Denver was the only city to register positive growth, with an increase of 0.7 percent, compared to April 2017. Of the 3.6 percent decline in year-over-year growth at the national level, consumers under the age of 35 were responsible for 0.8 percent of positive growth, while all other age groups, income quintiles and business sizes registered negative growth or remained flat.

“We saw in April our most significant decline in the series, topping even the 3.5 percent decline from May 2016. This time around, it looks like the decline was, at least in part, due to weather,” said Diana Farrell, President and CEO, JPMorgan Chase Institute. “The late start to summer this year depressed spending on non-durable goods, such as summer clothing and related items, relative to last April. It’s an important reminder of the substantial role that unusual weather can play in growth volatility across 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:

  • Spending on non-durables saw the most negative contribution to growth, subtracting 3.3 percentage points from growth at the national level.
  • Columbus, Chicago and New York all saw declines of 5.7 percent in year over year growth. Detroit saw a decline of 5.5 percent.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth and San Diego registered negative growth of 3.7 percent, and Portland registered negative growth of 3.4 percent.
  • Consumers under 35 added 0.8 percentage points in positive growth, while consumers over 55 subtracted 2.6 percentage points from year-over-year growth.
  • Consumers in the highest income quintile subtracted 1.5 percentage points from growth, while spending remained flat for consumers in the lowest income quintile.
  • Mid-sized businesses subtracted 2.1 percentage points from year-over-year growth, while large businesses and small businesses fared slightly better, subtracting 1.1 and 0.4 percentage points, respectively.
  • Fuel spending continued to add to growth, with an increase of 0.5 percent compared to last year.

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.