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 three 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!
We ask questions in our monthly Pulse survey that ultimately provide us with directional trends for the US economy. With multiple years of survey data at this point, we now have a number of “bespoke” economic indicators. Some of the indicators are more traditional (unemployment, spending, income, etc.), while others are off the beaten path. Two “offbeat” economic indicators that we now have from our monthly Pulse survey are shown below. The first shows the percentage of consumers that have had elective surgery over the last month.
The thinking behind our “elective surgery” indicator is that consumers are willing to have more of these types of procedures when they’re feeling flush. When times are tough, elective procedures are out of the question.
As shown below, the percentage of consumers opting for cosmetic or plastic surgery hit a new high in our series in the most recent month, jumping up to 3.2%. That’s a healthy sign. Orthopedic visits or surgeries have been trending higher over the last few years as well, as has Lasik surgery. The cosmetic or plastic surgery indicator has definitely jumped the most of the three, though.
Another “offbeat” indicator we’ve built is the “living paycheck to paycheck” reading. Below are the historical results from our monthly survey question asking consumers if they consider themselves to currently be living paycheck to paycheck. As shown, those who agree or strongly agree that they do live paycheck to paycheck has been trending lower since early 2017, and it just hit a multi-year low in our series. This is another sign that the consumer is feeling pretty flush right now.
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