Consumer Checkpoint: Early Easter and hopped-up refunds

Spending softened in March, but continued wage growth, tax refunds, and easing rent inflation should support consumer momentum.

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David Tinsley

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Joe Wadford

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Liz Everett Krisberg

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Taylor Bowley

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Vanessa Cook

April 2024

Key takeaways

  • Total card spending per household rose 0.3% year-over-year (YoY) in March, following the leap-year boosted 2.9% YoY increase in February, according to Bank of America aggregated credit debit card data. The early Easter holiday likely brought some spending from April into March. Controlling for these seasonal impacts, spending fell 0.7% month-over-month (MoM).
  • While spending was soft on the month, the solid labor market continues to sustain consumer momentum. March saw strong jobs growth, and this appears to be reflected in strengthening after-tax wages and salaries growth in our data – with growth at the highest level since early 2023.
  • Tax refunds may also provide additional support to households, with average refunds up by 5% this year through the end of March. While most consumers appear to be planning to save or pay down debt, there is a small rise in people saying they will go shopping.
  • We are seeing signs that easing rent inflation is providing a tailwind to renters' spending. Renters' spending growth appears to be improving most in retail categories.

Read our full analysis for a more in-depth look at these trends.

Consumer Checkpoint is a regular publication from Bank of America Institute. It aims to provide a holistic and real-time estimate of U.S. consumers’ spending and their financial well-being, leveraging the depth and breadth of Bank of America proprietary data. Any such Bank of America proprietary data is not intended to be reflective or indicative of, and should not be relied upon as, the results of operations, financial conditions or performance of Bank of America.

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