L.A. spending up sharply

spending.jpgThe average L.A. household spent almost $3,600 in March, compared with a little over $3,000 for the same period a year earlier, according to Bundle.com. The 17 percent increase was higher than the national average of 12.5 percent, and it covered all categories: shopping, food and drink, health and family, house and home, getting around (transportation), and travel and leisure. The Bundle numbers exclude taxes, mortgage, and rent. The spending bump just confirms earlier government data, but it provides a local slant. (Did you know Angelenos spent 13.5 percent more on personal care in the first quarter than a year earlier?) The year-earlier comparisons are pretty easy considering that nobody was spending any money in March 2009. Add to that a dash of optimism, especially among the more affluent households.

The causes may well be psychological -- one reason economists think it's unlikely to last. At the beginning of the year, consumers gradually came around to the idea that, no matter how bad things were, they weren't likely to get much worse. The biggest of the layoffs and pay cuts seemed to be over. Months of abstinence had created small pockets of savings. Consumers felt comfortable again, explained Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Economy.com, and there was stuff they wanted to buy. We were hungry, and so we ate.

So here's how it breaks out in L.A.

March 2010
--Shopping $831
--Food & drink $760
--Health & family $750
--House & home $557
--Getting around $426
--Travel & leisure $270
Total household spending $3,594

March 2009
--Shopping $669
--Food & drink $660
--Health & family $635
--House & home $476
--Getting around $403
--Travel & leisure $228
Total household spending $3,071

Photo: AP

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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