Understanding the latest consumer spending trends in the United States and how consumer expenditure there is changing allows you to tweak your sales strategy to cater to buyers’ purchasing habits.

Aside from knowing how much the average US consumer spends per year, it’s also helpful to have a breakdown of US consumer spending by category. Here’s a look at some key American spending statistics.

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What do Americans spend the most money on: top five consumer spending categories

The most recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that American consumers spend the most money on housing. In 2021, the average US consumer spent $22,624 on housing, which made up one-third (33.8%) of their total annual expenditure. This refers to money spent on both owned properties and rented accommodation, including those booked for vacations. The housing expenditure in 2021 was a 5.6% increase from the previous year’s $21,417.

Transportation was the second-largest expenditure of the year. Consumers spent $10,961 to commute in 2021, be it with their own vehicles or other forms of transportation. Like housing, expenditure on transportation also rose (from $9,826) from the preceding year. 

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Together, annual expenditure on housing and transportation reached $16,793 in 2021. Given that total spending for the year was $66,928, this means that more than one-quarter (25.1%) of the average US consumer’s expenditure was on these two categories.

The third- and fourth-largest consumer spending categories in 2021 were food and personal insurance and pensions. That year, US consumers spent $8,289 on food and $7,873 on personal insurance and pensions.

Health care rounds out the five biggest consumer spending categories, with an expenditure of $5,452.

US consumer spending by category: sixth to 14th

The sixth-largest expense was entertainment, on which the average US consumer spent $3,568. This includes admission fees and purchases related to pets and hobbies. This is followed by cash contributions and apparel and services, which totaled $2,415 and $1,754, respectively.

Education ($1,226) and miscellaneous ($986) spending made up the top 10 expenses in 2021. Here are the other categories Americans spent their money on in 2021:

  1. Personal care products: $771
  2. Alcoholic beverages: $554
  3. Tobacco products and smoking supplies: $341
  4. Reading: $114

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