Wasatch Consumer Price Index holds steady as economic indicators point to a strong holiday season

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The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) remained essentially unchanged from September to October on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Year over year, the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index has grown 2.9%, while the national Consumer Price Index has increased 1.8% since October of last year.

The price of utilities dropped 1.9% in October as the price of electricity decreased. The drop counterbalanced slight increases in several other industries, including other goods and services (1.3%), housing (0.1%), food at home (0.3%), and clothing (0.5%). The small bump in housing prices from September to October ends a two-month streak of falling prices in the sector.

Although housing prices were again the primary driver of year-over-year price growth, this is the fourth straight month that 12-month housing price growth (now at 3%) has slowed for the sector. A jump in prices in the recreation sector was the second-most significant driver of 12-month price growth. Recreation sector prices have grown 12.9% since October 2018, the highest jump since Zions Bank began tracking the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index in 2010.

According to the national Bureau of Economic Analysis, consumer spending in Utah grew at a rate of 7.3% from 2017 to 2018 — faster than in any other state. Higher consumer spending often comes as a result of higher consumer incomes, overall price growth, and greater consumer confidence. In Utah’s case, the upsurge in consumer spending is likely due to all three, according to Randy Shumway, chairman and partner at Cicero Group.

“In the second quarter of this year, Utah had the nation’s fourth highest personal income growth rate and sixth highest GDP growth rate. This means Utahns have more to spend and, as we’ve seen in past consumer attitude surveys, are quite confident in the overall economy,” Shumway said. “Add to that our continued modest price increases and it is not surprising to see Utah consumers spend more.” 

Shumway said the higher spending is good for local businesses and a good sign heading into the holiday season.

“Utah’s economy has continued to be one of the strongest in the nation,” said Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank. “It’s especially positive to see that the growth is reaching Utahns’ pockets because that helps fuel further growth.”

Analysis and data collection for the Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index and the Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index are provided by Cicero Group, a management consulting firm based in Salt Lake City. The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index will be released Nov. 26.