The Spending Habits of Americans

The Spending Habits of Americans

3 Min.

Consumer spending refers to purchasing all final goods and services for personal and household use, including necessities and discretionary items. It accounts for over $17.4 trillion of the American GDP, making up approximately 68%. The analysis of government statistics reveals the financial allocation practices of American citizens.


Consumer spending is pivotal in driving the U.S. economy, contributing to approximately 68% of its financial activity. Breaking down American expenditures, they can be categorized into two primary segments. The first entails non-negotiable essentials, encompassing vital items like food, medicine, housing, and clothing. The second category comprises discretionary spending, spanning all non-essential products and services.

Providing insight into America's buying behaviors, data from the second quarter of 2023 reveals a substantial total of $14 trillion in consumer expenditures. This data offers valuable insights into the nation's interests, hobbies, indulgences, and vices. Below is a compilation of the top ten discretionary purchases of goods and services, with percentages calculated based on an average annual household income of $87,864 for 2022.

Categories of Consumer Expenditures

Apparel Services and Products

Encompassing dry cleaning, clothing storage, clothing rental, and jewelry/watch repair services. Total Spending: 3%.


Despite the well-documented health risks, tobacco consumption persists among Americans. Smoking is on a gradual decline, while vaping and related products are on the rise. Total Spending: 0.6%.

Entertainment Equipment and Services

A broad category encompassing sports gear, photographic equipment, hunting and fishing supplies, bicycles, boats, and sports-related items. Total Spending: 8.1%.


This category includes all types of alcoholic beverages, including mixed drinks, beer, and wine, with most consumption occurring at home. Total Spending: 1%.

Fees and Admissions

Americans exhibit a strong affinity for movies, concerts, and sporting events, surpassing expenditures on personal care products and services. Total Spending: 1.3%.

Vacation Lodging

Spending on hotels, motels, vacation homes, and weekend getaways increases with household income. Total Spending: 1.4%.

Hobbies, Toys, Pets, and Playground Equipment

A diverse category, with pet-related expenses, including food and veterinary care, constituting the majority of spending. Total Spending: 1.4%.

Television, Radio, and Sound Equipment

Encompassing video games (hardware and software), cable TV connections, and DVD/CD players. Total Spending: 2%.


Americans display generosity through substantial annual spending on gifts. Total Spending: 2.2%.

Dining Out

Covers expenses related to eating at restaurants, fast-food establishments, and leisure venues, as well as food from vending machines, mobile vendors, and delivery services. Total Spending: 5.6%.

Non-Discretionary Expenditures

Certain essential expenses during the same period included:

  • Doctors and Dentists: 3.0%.
  • Groceries: 8.6%.
  • Hospitals and Nursing Homes: 1.7%.
  • Rent or Mortgage: 31.5%.
  • Utilities: 5.3%.


The connection between consumer spending and the U.S. economy is undeniable. As one grows, so does the other. Americans' spending choices, particularly the percentage allocated to non-essential items, vividly portray their interests, behaviors, and indulgences. In essence, what the nation purchases becomes a mirror reflecting the economic identity of the typical American consumer.

Consumer Spending
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
United States of America (USA)
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