A man examines a row of washers and dryers while shopping Nov. 23, 2012, at a Sears store in Henderson, Nev.

AP file photo

A man examines a row of washers and dryers while shopping Nov. 23, 2012, at a Sears store in Henderson, Nev.

Consumer spending surges in North Carolina

By EMERY P. DALESIO

Associated Press

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RALEIGH — North Carolina’s consumers notched one of the country’s highest jumps in spending in 2012 after the recession blues, according a new report the government issued Thursday.

Per-person consumer spending showed the sixth-highest rise in the country in 2012, the last year data was available, compared to the previous year, the report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said.

Overall consumer spending In North Carolina rose to $311 billion in 2012, a 14 percent increase since the depths of the recession were being felt in 2008. Car makers and parts suppliers saw buyers return after job and economic worries forced them to put off big purchases during the recession, with the state’s consumers spending 17 percent more in 2012 than 2008.

Part of the reason North Carolina customers resumed shopping in 2012 was demand pent up during the recession, said Wells Fargo Securities senior economist Mark Vitner in Charlotte.

“I think the big gain in 2012 was a bit of a catch-up,” he said. “The state’s economy really picked up momentum in the second half of 2013 and the early part of this year. So it could be a few years before we see that in the data given the huge lags that are involved in putting this report together.”

The figures for overall spending in the report don’t factor in the effect of inflation. Prices have risen for North Carolina consumers by about 6 percent since 2008, Vitner said.

Increased consumer spending hasn’t forced businesses to increase hiring because people shop differently than they used to, with shopping clubs and online retailers needing fewer workers, Vitner said.

The increased spending between 2008 and 2012 also has more to do with North Carolina’s population growing by more than 700,000 residents than consumers opening their wallets, said North Carolina Retail Merchants Association President Andy Ellen.

“What we have seen is that retailers had to learn how to compete harder for each consumer dollar through low prices, promotions and customer service,” said Ellen, whose trade group represents clothing shops and grocery stores alike.

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