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Consumers are spending more on services than on stuff. How long will that last?

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People have been spending more money on the service sector than goods. Octavio Jones/Getty Images

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Consumers have been spending more on services this year, after binging on goods early in the pandemic. But there are some signs that the recent growth in services spending could be slowing down a little.

Take restaurant spending, for example. In May, spending at restaurants fell for the first time in several months.

“Consumers are being a lot more cautious,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. Part of the issue, she said, is the higher prices we’re paying for services.

But there are other factors that could get in the way of services spending – like whether a business has enough workers on staff.

“You know, what you’re getting for your money … slower service, canceled flights, that could actually be potentially another cooling factor for consumer spending,” Lee said.

A lot of services spending still hasn’t caught up to pre-pandemic levels, said Shannon Seery, an economist at Wells Fargo.

But even if the growth in services spending slows down, “there is still that desire from consumers to take the vacation, go to the wedding, all of these things that, regardless of the price tag that they’re facing this summer, I think they’re going to continue to spend on,” Seery said.

Seery added that should help prop up overall consumer spending this year, even as people spend less on goods.

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