Each month, Bespoke runs a survey of 1,500 US consumers balanced to census.  In the survey, we cover everything you can think of regarding the economy, personal finances, and consumer spending habits.  We’ve now been running the monthly survey for more than two years, so we have historical trend data that is extremely valuable, and it only gets more valuable as time passes.  All of this data gets packaged into our monthly Bespoke Consumer Pulse Report, which is included as part of our Pulse subscription package that is available for either $39/month or $365/year.  We highly recommend trying out the service, as it includes access to model portfolios and additional consumer reports as well.  If you’re not yet a Pulse member, click here to start a 30-day free trial now!

Earlier this week we noted that our December Pulse survey showed big increases in expectations to purchase big ticket items like homes and autos.  We saw similarly positive results in our series of questions regarding the Health Care sector.  Over the last 6-9 months, consumers in our survey had been reporting higher health care costs, but as shown in the chart below, they noted declining costs in this month’s survey.  This question asks consumers to compare current costs versus a year ago on a range of things like copays, deductibles, and premiums.  Regardless of whether or not it was actually the case, the dip in reported costs versus our November survey is what consumers felt at least.

costs

Consumers seemingly feel healthier as well, as hospital visits over the past month dipped while the “1-3 month” category rose.  You can see the dip in the chart below:

When consumers feel more flush, they’re more willing to spend on discretionary items and services.  One of the questions we ask consumers in our monthly survey is if they’ve had cosmetic or plastic surgery recently, as well as orthopedic surgery and Lasik surgery.  These are all elective procedures (although orthopedic and Lasik is much less elective than plastic surgery) that consumers cut back on when times are tight.  If the economy is going into a downturn, we should see these categories start to dip right away.  As shown in the chart below, while Lasik and orthopedic procedures remained steady, we saw a new high in those reporting cosmetic or plastic surgeries in December.

To see our full December Pulse report, click here to start a 30-day free trial now!

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