Our exact question asks: Next, we'd like you to think about your spending yesterday, not counting the purchase of a home, motor vehicle, or your normal household bills. How much money did you spend or charge yesterday on all other types of purchases you may have made, such as at a store, restaurant, gas station, online, or elsewhere?
It's an open-ended question and asking about "yesterday" helps respondents to give more precise responses. Data collected on Saturday reflect spending that occurred on Friday and so on. It's also important to note that the question focuses the respondent on discretionary spending and does include online spending.
In our story this afternoon, our Editor in Chief Frank Newport reviews the combined data reflecting Friday and Saturday (based on interviews conducted Saturday and Sunday), finding spending down 8.6% from the same Friday and Saturday last year.
In our lead story Tuesday morning, our Chief Economist Dennis Jacobe reviews the combined weekly results, which span Nov. 23-29, and thus include Friday and Saturday spending. Incredulously, spending was flat compared to the prior week and down 25% from a year ago. We did not interview Thanksgiving Day, so it excludes reports of purchases made on Wednesday, Nov. 25. (Update: Read the story.)
Interviewing Tuesday night will tell us how much Americans spent Monday, and in our weekly report next Tuesday, we'll be able to see if this week's payday brings a burst of better news.
Our daily, always available, chart includes both 3-day and 14-day rolling averages, the former to illustrate weekend and other near-term effects and the latter to see the bigger picture. Our Gallup Economic Weekly each Tuesday takes a weekly view to help us understand where we are this week compared to last week and compared to this week a year ago. All of it will be critical to watch over the coming month to see how this holiday season ultimately stacks up to last year.