Impoverished US Consumers Drown Their Sorrows In Outdoor Dining

While phrases like 'eat the rich' or 'fatter-cats' might come to mind, the rise in discretionary spending on dining-out, that has surged post 2009 crisis lows, has now regained levels not seen since 2007. The percentage of discretionary income spent on dining-out may conjure images of filet mignon and Margaux, but it is critical to understand that the sub-index contains all restaurant-eating including Denny's, McDonalds, and the other QSRs; and in the current weakening income environment, it is a safe-bet that much of this spend is not headed to Delmonico's. With food stamps at record highs, real disposable personal income growth stagnant, and real consumer spending decelerating rapidly the difference between consumer sentiment and real consumer actions seems to highlight the hope-filled 'bubble' we find ourselves in as the first quarter is off to a very weak start for spending trends.

 

All-in-all, Bloomberg points out that their 'Fab Five' measures of discretionary consumer spending are notably worrisome in January with the dining-out spend slowing (and the blend assuredly changing), women's and girls clothing spend dropping, cosmetics spending rose far less than expected, gambling revenues dropped MoM, and even jewelry and watches fell in January and are down notably YoY

 

As Bloomberg notes, a perfect example of weak concrete data, but optimistic sentiment.

 

Charts: Bloomberg