Charities and churches receiving fewer donations while Americans spend more on groceries; clothing expenditures tumble

Americans are donating less to charities and churches, spending less on restaurants but more on groceries and spending less, much less, on clothes.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday released its annual look at consumer spending.

The data record changes in expenditures by “consumer units” (a single person, a couple, a financially independent person living with others) between 2012 and 2013.

Among the numbers:

•  Average total expenditures per consumer unit fell 0.7 percent from $51,442 to $51,100.

•  Expenditure for food was unchanged, but within the category consumers spent $3,977 for groceries, up 1.4 percent; and $2,625 for “food away from home,” down 2.0 percent.

•  Housing expenditures, at $17,148, were up 1.5 percent in 2013 over 2012.

•  Apparel and apparel services spending, at $1,684, was down 7.6 percent; this includes an 8.3 percent shortfall for mens’ and boys’ clothing and a 7.6 percent drop for women and girls. The decrease follows a 0.2 percent decline in 2012 over 2011.

•  Transportation rode a 0.1 percent spending decline to $9,004.

•  Spending for healthcare rose 2.1 percent to $3,631.

•  Entertainment spending fell 4.7 percent to $2,482.

•  A dip of 4.1 percent in “cash contributions” is attributed, said the bureau, to a 9.1 percent decrease in contributions to charities and a 4.8 percent drop in contributions to religious organizations.