Retailers: Contribution to GDP

Personal Consumption and Retail Trade Contribution to U.S. GDP

The United States is home to a consumer-driven economy, as consumers spend millions of dollars on merchandise at retail stores each day. Growth in personal consumption and GDP almost move in lockstep, because as consumption moves up or down, GDP typically moves in tandem.

Over the past 16 years, personal consumption in the United States has increased steadily. Recently, however, consumption appears to have plummeted. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports that real personal consumption expenditures decreased 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with a 3.8 percent decrease in the third quarter.

According to the latest-available BEA statistics, the retail trade’s contribution to GDP totaled more than $886.5 billion in 2007, up from $847.9 billion in 2006. Historically, the BEA reports that retail’s value-added contribution to GDP increased at a compounded annual rate of four percent in the 10-year period from 1997 to 2007.