What is a 'Big Ticket Item'

A big ticket item is a high-cost item, such as a house or car, as well as an expensive product such as an appliance, home theater system and furniture. In the context of retail stores, they may also refer to products with selling price and profit margins that are significantly higher than those of other items in the stores. In economics, big ticket items can also sometimes be called durable goods, or those that last a relatively long time and provides utility to the user.

BREAKING DOWN 'Big Ticket Item'

There is no accepted dollar threshold level that defines a big ticket item. It depends on the buyer and his or her level of wealth or income. Someone earning $200,000 per year may not consider a $1,000 video game console a big ticket item, but a consumer who earns $50,000 a year would most likely. A big ticket item need not necessarily be a luxury product or one purchased with discretionary income, since many products that typically fall within this category — for example, refrigerators and washing machines — are considered necessities rather than luxury items. The number of big ticket item or durable good sales can be an indicator of the performance of the economy and consumer confidence.

Tracking Big Ticket Items

Durable goods can be tracked on the monthly Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories and Orders report and monthly Retail and Food Services sales report issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce (commonly known as the "Durable Goods" and "Retail Sales" reports). Note that the durable goods report divides categories by shipments and new orders and is measured in value at the manufacturers' level. The retail sales report is perhaps more useful because it more directly breaks down categories that consumers are familiar with in terms of "big ticket" items. Motor vehicles, furniture, electronics, appliances and building materials (for the expensive home renovation that people want) appear in the monthly retail sales report.

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