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The end of daylight saving time means a drop in consumer spending

While the election and the economy have been the major focus of discussion this week, a seemingly small change this weekend could lead to a significant drop in consumer spending.

A recent study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute showed that when daylight saving time (DST) ends, there's a 3.5 percent drop in credit card spending in the following 30 days.

In particular, consumer spending on goods drops more than services, and weekday spending drops more than weekends. JPMorgan has access to millions of credit card transactions on its network, and the anonymized data allows the company to see exactly how consumer behavior changes immediately as a result of the one-hour shift.


When DST begins in the spring, there is a 0.9 percent increase in daily credit card spending per capita in Los Angeles. But the 3.5 percent drop in spending that happens when DST ends means the total economic effect of DST is a net loss. Remember, this weekend's end of DST means we "fall back," turning our clocks back an hour. We all sleep an extra hour, making the mornings brighter and the evenings darker.

According to JPMorgan's data, grocery stores (down 6 percent per day per capita) suffered the most among consumer goods categories. Contrast that with health care, which saw almost no drop. That makes sense, because those types of decisions aren't going to change because of the time difference.

You can really see the stark difference when comparing weekday spending versus weekend spending. All of a sudden, weeknights lose an hour of light, digging into the limited time people had in the first place to shop then anyway.


Then there are the fatalities

If that's not bad enough, data from New York City show that the end of DST has a direct effect on the deaths of pedestrians, who are being hit by automobiles that are now being driven more in the dark.

The New York Times recently reported on the issue, saying the city's Department of Transportation is concerned about added darkness increasing the danger to pedestrians during the evening commute. The city will spend $1.5 million on a "dusk and darkness" advertising campaign. Last year, there were nine pedestrian fatalities in the first eight days after DST ended on November 1.

The city provides the full data on pedestrian deaths by the time of day and the week of year.

While a lot of people are concerned the election could hurt economic spending and endanger people in the streets, here's the thing: It's going to happen no matter what.