NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

From Transactions Data to Economic Statistics: Constructing Real-time, High-frequency, Geographic Measures of Consumer Spending

Aditya Aladangady, Shifrah Aron-Dine, Wendy Dunn, Laura Feiveson, Paul Lengermann, Claudia Sahm

NBER Working Paper No. 26253
Issued in September 2019
NBER Program(s):The Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program, Technical Working Papers

Access to timely information on consumer spending is important to economic policymakers. The Census Bureau’s monthly retail trade survey is a primary source for monitoring consumer spending nationally, but it is not well suited to study localized or short-lived economic shocks. Moreover, lags in the publication of the Census estimates and subsequent, sometimes large, revisions diminish its usefulness for real-time analysis. Expanding the Census survey to include higher frequencies and subnational detail would be costly and would add substantially to respondent burden. We take an alternative approach to fill these information gaps. Using anonymized transactions data from a large electronic payments technology company, we create daily estimates of retail spending at detailed geographies. Our daily estimates are available only a few days after the transactions occur, and the historical time series are available from 2010 to the present. When aggregated to the national level, the pattern of monthly growth rates is similar to the official Census statistics. We discuss two applications of these new data for economic analysis: First, we describe how our monthly spending estimates are useful for real-time monitoring of aggregate spending, especially during the government shutdown in 2019, when Census data were delayed and concerns about the economy spiked. Second, we show how the geographic detail allowed us quantify in real time the spending effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26253

Forthcoming: From Transactions Data to Economic Statistics: Constructing Real-Time, High-Frequency, Geographic Measures of Consumer Spending, Aditya Aladangady, Shifrah Aron-Dine, Wendy Dunn, Laura Feiveson, Paul Lengermann, Claudia Sahm. in Big Data for 21st Century Economic Statistics, Abraham, Jarmin, Moyer, and Shapiro. 2019

 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us