PhotoFor the second time in as many months, the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index declined in September. The index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

"Although the index moved down slightly last month, it remained in positive territory," said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte's senior U.S. economist. "These slight variations in economic fundamentals month-to-month during a period of economic recovery are not unusual."

The index, which is made up of four components -- tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices -- fell to 3.7 this month from 4.0 last month.

"If the government shutdown is short-lived, retailers may not feel a noticeable impact, but if it persists, consumers may pause at the beginning of the holiday season," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and Retail & Distribution sector leader. "With many retailers planning early promotions this year, shifts in consumer sentiment will likely test retailers' scenario planning techniques."

Sector performance

In the latest index, new home prices continued to rise, but the pace of growth is decelerating. Initial unemployment claims continued to fall, but real wages remain flat.

  • Tax burden: The tax rate is up 6.8% from last year, and is now at 11.7%.
  • Initial unemployment claims: Claims moved down 9% from the same period last year to 330,000 in the most recent month.
  • Real wages: Hourly real wage growth remains slow, hovering at $8.78, which is up 0.1% from the previous month and 0.3% from last year.
  • Real new home prices: Real new home prices were down 0.8% from the month prior, but moved up 4.3% from this time last year to reach approximately $109,000.

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