Consumer Checkpoint: Not such a cruel summer

While card balances and student loan payments begin to heat up, consumer spending remains stable and deposit balances elevated.

Headshot of David Tinsley

David Tinsley

Headshot of Anna Zhou

Anna Zhou

Headshot of Taylor Bowley

Taylor Bowley

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Liz Everett Krisberg

September 2023

Key takeaways

  • August consumer spending was broadly stable. Total card spending per household was up 0.4% year-over-year (YoY), compared to 0.1% in July, according to Bank of America internal data. Seasonally adjusted spending fell 0.2% month-over-month, but that followed a strong 0.7% rise in July. Rising gasoline prices have modestly increased the share of necessities in total spending.
  • Overall, consumers still have 'dry powder' to support their spending. Credit card utilization rates have risen, but remain below pre-pandemic levels. Average credit card balances are above 2019 levels for lower income households, but their wage growth has also been strong.
  • Have people started paying their student loans back before the moratorium ends? Bank of America internal data suggests relatively few households have done this, but those that have, are seemingly making lump-sum payments to avoid the accrual of interest from September 1.

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.