Richard Drew, AP
A board on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the Down Jones Industrial average as it crosses 13,000 shortly after the market opened, Friday, Feb. 24, 2012. The Dow Jones industrial average is pushing closer to 13,000 at the opening of trading, and other stock indexes are opening higher ahead of reports on new home sales and consumer sentiment. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

PRINCETON, N.J. — Credit the weather.

A new Gallup poll shows Americans spent an average of $74 a day during March. And it may have a lot to do with a warmer winter.

"Americans' self-reported daily spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations and online averaged $74 per day in March, up from $63 in February and up 16 percent compared with the same month a year ago ($64)," the Gallup poll found. "The best economic confidence in four years, strong job creation, higher gas prices, warmer weather than usual and a relatively early Easter are likely responsible for sending self-reported consumer spending up in March."

Chris Christopher, economist at IHS Global Insight, told U.S. News & World Report he thought the early Easter boosted spending. "Given that Easter falls on April 8th, the run-up to Easter really fell in March."

And Christopher said that with the warmer weather, consumers also increased spending on gardening supplies and building materials. They also ate out more.

The report follows the recent Gallup Economic Confidence Index, which was at its highest level since January 2008.

"Americans' confidence in the U.S. economy is improving, with economic confidence having now increased for seven consecutive months," the Gallup report said. "Increasing optimism about the unemployment picture is likely a strong driver of improving consumer expectations."

And Gallup also recently looked at hiring in the U.S.: "U.S. job market conditions in March reached their best level since August 2008, with Gallup's Job Creation Index now at +18, up from +14 in February. This four-percentage-point increase is the largest one-month jump in the index that Gallup has recorded since instituting the measure in 2008."

But even though the specter of higher gas prices continues to cast a shadow on the numbers, Gallup found that the average American won't cut back on spending until the prices reach $5.30 to $5.35 per gallon.

This article contains aggregated content from Gallup, U.S. News & World Report and WLTX.com.

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