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Consumer confidence dips in September

The decline is the first in three months

After posting increases for two consecutive months, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, which measures consumers’ optimism related to the economy based on their saving and spending activity, lost ground in September.

The reading of 119.8 is down 0.6 points from August, with the Present Situation Index falling 2.3 points from the previous month. However, the Expectations Index shot up 0.5 points to 102.2.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which struck earlier in the month, had an effect on the readings.

“Confidence in Texas and Florida, however, decreased considerably, as these two states were the most severely impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” said said Lynn Franco, Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators.

“Despite the slight downtick in confidence,” she added, “consumers’ assessment of current conditions remains quite favorable and their expectations for the short-term suggest the economy will continue expanding at its current pace.”

How consumers see things

There was a bit of moderation in September of consumers’ assessment of current conditions. Those who see business conditions as “good” slipped from 34.5% to 33.9%, while those who believe conditions are “bad” rose to 13.8% from 13.2%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market also lost ground. Those who said jobs are “plentiful” dropped from 34.4% to 32.6%. At the same time, those who think jobs are “hard to get” also went down from 18.4% to 18.1%.

There was a bit more optimism for short-term outlook in this latest survey. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months inched up to 20.2% from 19.8%. On the other hand, those anticipating conditions to worsen also increases -- from 8.0% to 9.9%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more favorable than in August. The proportion expecting to see more jobs in the months ahead jumped to 19.5% from 16.8%. Still, the number of people who think there will be fewer jobs was also on the rise from 13.2% to 13.5%.

As far as short-term income prospects are concerned, 20.5% expect there'll be some improvement, up 0.6% from August, while the proportion expecting a decline was virtually unchanged at 8.3%.

The monthly consumer confidence survey, conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, is based on a probability-design random sample. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 18.

After posting increases for two consecutive months, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, which measures consumers’ optimism related to the eco...

August finds further improvement in consumer confidence

Things today are looking pretty good, consumers say

Consumers appear to have regained their sense of confidence in the economy.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index was up for a second straight month in August following two months of declines.

This month's Index reading was 122.9 -- up from 2.9 points from July. The Present Situation Index jumped to 151.2 from last month's reading of 145.4, and the Expectations Index rose one point to 104.0.

“Consumers’ more buoyant assessment of present-day conditions was the primary driver of the boost in confidence, with the Present Situation Index continuing to hover at a 16-year high," said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. "Consumers’ short-term expectations were relatively flat, though still optimistic, suggesting that they do not anticipate an acceleration in the pace of economic activity in the months ahead.”

The consumers' view

There was further improvement in August in the way consumers see current conditions.

Those who think business conditions are “good” rose from 32.5% to 34.5%, while those who believe they're “bad” slipped from 13.5% to 13.1%.

The assessment of the labor market was also more upbeat. The percentage of people saying jobs are “plentiful” went to 35.4% from 33.2%; while those who think jobs are “hard to get” fell from 18.7% to 17.3%.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook was relatively flat, with the percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months declining from 22.4% to 19.6%. At the same time, though, those expecting business conditions to get worse also went down -- to 7.3% from 8.4%.

The outlook for the labor market was also mixed. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead dropped from 18.5% to 17.1%, while those anticipating fewer jobs slipped to 13.0% from 13.2%.

When it comes to short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement rose a tad -- to 20.9% from 20.0% -- while the proportion expecting a decline fell from 9.5% to 7.8%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was August 16.

Consumers appear to have regained their sense of confidence in the economy.The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index was up for a seco...

Consumer confidence back on track in July

Economic growth is seen continuing through the year

Following two straight monthly declines, the confidence of consumers in the nation's economy is on the rise again.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, which had been revised to show a decline in June, was up 3.8 points to 121.1 in July.

The Present Situation Index rose from 143.9 to 147.8, while the Expectations Index went to 1.3.3 from 99.6 last month.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remained at a 16-year high (July 2001, 151.3) and their expectations for the short-term outlook improved somewhat after cooling last month,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Overall, consumers foresee the current economic expansion continuing well into the second half of this year.”

How they see it

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in July, with those who say business conditions are “good” increasing from 30.6% to 33.3%; those who believe conditions are “bad” was virtually unchanged at 13.5%.

The view of the labor market was also more favorable. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” jumped to 34.1% from 32.0%, with the opposite view down a touch from 18.4% to 18.0%.

There's also more optimism about the short-term outlook. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose from 20.1% to 22.9%, while those expecting a worsening dropped from 10.0% to 8.2%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market improved. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead was unchanged at 19.2%, while who think there will be fewer jobs declined to 13.3% from 14.6%.

However, they were not as upbeat about their income prospects. The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to improve slipped from 20.9% to 20.0%, while the proportion anticipating a decline rose from 9.3% to 10.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 14.

Following two straight monthly declines, the confidence of consumers in the nation's economy is on the rise again.The Conference Board reports its Cons...

Consumer confidence rebounds in June

The outlook for the economy remains positive

After dipping slightly a month earlier, consumers' confidence in the economy is on the rise again.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 118.9 following its decline to 117.6 in May. While the Present Situation Index jumped to 146.3 from 140.6, the Expectations Index dipped from 102.3 last month to 100.6.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved to a nearly 16-year high (July 2001, 151.3),” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. Overall, she added, “consumers anticipate the economy will continue expanding in the months ahead, but they do not foresee the pace of growth accelerating.”

The breakdown

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved in June. Those who say business conditions are “good” rose from 29.8% to 30.8%, while those think conditions are “bad” declined from 13.9% to 12.7%.

Their assessment of the labor market was also more positive. Those who see jobs as “plentiful” went from 30.0% to 32.8%; however, those who believe jobs are “hard to get” sipped to 18.0% from 18.3%.

There was less optimism about the short-term outlook, though. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months dropped from 21.5% to 20.4%. On the other hand, those expecting conditions to worsen went down marginally to 8.9% from 10.3%.

The labor market remains mixed. The proportion of consumers who think there will be more jobs in the months ahead rose to 19.3% from 18.6%; but those anticipating fewer jobs also increased -- going from 12.1% to 14.6%.

The percentage of consumers expecting an improvement in their income rose from 19.1% to 22.2%, as the proportion expecting a decline was also higher -- going to 9.2% from 8.7.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for The Conference Board by information and analytics provider Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was June 15.

After dipping slightly a month earlier, consumers' confidence in the economy is on the rise again.The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence...

Consumer confidence slips in May

The decline is the second in a row

There was a bit of softness in the attitude of consumers in May, with The Conference Board report that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 117.9 from downwardly revised 119.4 in April.

While the Present Situation Index inched up from 140.3 to 140.7, the Expectations Index dropped to 102.6 from 105.4 last month.

“Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting little change in overall economic conditions,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco, but noted that, “Consumers were somewhat less upbeat than in April, but overall remain optimistic that the economy will continue expanding into the summer months.”

The view from consumers

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions held steady in May, with those saying business conditions are “good” edging down from 30.8% to 29.4%, and those saying business conditions are “bad” unchanged at 13.7%.

Consumers’ also had a positive assessment of the labor market. Those who think are “plentiful” dipped slightly from 30.3% to 29.9%; however, those believe jobs are “hard to get” slipped to 18.2% from 19.4%.

Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook. The percentage expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months fell from 25.1% to 21.3%t, as those expecting conditions to worsen also declined from 10.4% to 10.1%.

The outlook for the labor market was mixed. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead was down to 18.6% from 21.9%, but those who think there will be fewer jobs dropped from 13.8% to 12.0%.

The percentage of consumers who look for their incomes to rise edged up from 18.7% to 19.2%, although the proportion expecting a drop also rose -- from 7.6% to 8.7%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 18.

There was a bit of softness in the attitude of consumers in May, with The Conference Board report that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 117.9 from...

Consumer confidence down for first time in three months

Current businesses conditions are seen as less favorable

After posting solid gain in each of the two previous months, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index slipped in April.

The closely-watched barometer of consumer sentiment fell 4.6 points this month to 120.3. Both the Present Situation Index and and the Expectations Index were lower.

“Consumers assessed current business conditions and, to a lesser extent, the labor market less favorably than in March,”said Conference Boar, Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco.. “Looking ahead, consumers were somewhat less optimistic about the short-term outlook for business conditions, employment and income prospects. Despite April’s decline, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand in the months ahead.”

A closer look

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions eased in April. Those who said business conditions are “good” dropped from 32.4% to 30.2%, while those who think conditions are “bad” inched up to 13.8% from 13.1%.

The view of the labor market was moderately less favorable, as those who believe jobs are “plentiful” dipped from 31.8% to 30.8%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” was virtually unchanged at 19.1%.

There was less optimism about the short-term outlook. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months declined from 26.9% to 24.8%; those looking for business conditions to worsen jumped from 8.5% to 10.9%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead edged down to 23.0% from 23.8%, while those anticipating fewer jobs went from 12.7% to 13.1%.

The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell from 22.5% to 19.3%, while the proportion expecting a decline held steady at 7.5%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was April 13.

After posting solid gain in each of the two previous months, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index slipped in April.The closely-watched baro...

Consumer confidence hits a 16-year high

The Conference Board found optimism in nearly every area

After posting a solid increase a month earlier, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index moved sharply higher in March.

The index shot up 9.5 points to 125.6, with the Present Situation Index moving from 134.4 to 143.1 and the expectations Index increasing to 113.8 from 103.9 last month.

The index now stands at its highest point since December 2000.

“Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions improved considerably,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Consumers also expressed much greater optimism regarding the short-term outlook for business, jobs and personal income prospects.”

“Thus,” she added, “consumers feel current economic conditions have improved over the recent period, and their renewed optimism suggests the possibility of some upside to the prospects for economic growth in the coming months.”

Consumer perceptions

The appraisal by consumers of current conditions improved considerably in March. The percentage saying business conditions are “good” increased from 28.3% to 32.2%, while those who said they are “bad” fell to 12.9% from 13.4 percent.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also more positive, as the proportion of consumers who think jobs are “plentiful” rose from 26.9% to 31.7%; those who believe jobs are “hard to get” slipped from 19.9% to 19.5%.

There also was significantly more optimism about the short-term outlook. More than 27% of consumers expect business conditions to improve over the next six months -- up more than 3% from February, while those expecting conditions to worsen dropped from 10.5% to 8.4%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market also was more upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 20.9% to 24.8%, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined from 13.6% to 12.2%.

The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase improved to 21.5% from 19.2%, while the proportion looking for a decrease dropped from 8.1% to 7.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was March 16.

After posting a solid increase a month earlier, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index moved sharply higher in March.The index shot up 9.5 po...

Consumer confidence rebounds from January slump

The view of current conditions improved along with expectations

Consumers seem to be feeling a lot better about the economy than they did a month ago.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index rose 3.2 points in February to 114.8 after dipping a point and a half the month before.

The improvement came as the Present Situation Index rose from 130.0 to 133.4 and the Expectations Index jumped from 99.3 last month to 102.4.

“Consumer confidence increased in February and remains at a 15-year high,” according to Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Consumers rated current business and labor market conditions more favorably this month than in January. Expectations improved regarding the short-term outlook for business, and to a lesser degree jobs and income prospects. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding in the months ahead.”

Survey results

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was relatively steady, with those saying business conditions are “good” slipping from 29.0% to 28.7%, and those who think conditions are “bad” dropping to 13.2% from 15.9%.

The way consumers see the labor market was mixed as well. Those who say jobs are “plentiful” declined from 27.1% to 26.2%, while those who believe jobs are “hard to get” also decreased -- from 21.1% to 20.3%.

There was more optimism about the short-term outlook. The percentage of consumers who foresee business conditions improving over the next six months rose from 22.9% to 24.0%. At the same time, though, those expecting business conditions to worsen also rose -- from 10.8% to 11.1%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was a little more upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead rose to 20.4% from 19.7%, while those who think there'll be fewer jobs dropped from 14.4% to 13.6%.

The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase inched up from 18.1% to 18.3%; the proportion expecting a decline dropped to 8.2% from 9.4%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was February 16.

Consumers seem to be feeling a lot better about the economy than they did a month ago.The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index rose 3...

Consumer confidence drops in January

Concerns about the months ahead drove the decline

The new year got off to a rocky start insofar as the way consumers see things.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index dipped a point and a-half in January after hitting a 15-year high a month earlier.

Although the Present Situation Index rose from 123.5 to 129.7, the Expectations Index dropped to 99.8 from 106.4 in December.

“The decline in confidence was driven solely by a less optimistic outlook for business conditions, jobs, and especially consumers’ income prospects,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, on the other hand, improved in January. Despite the retreat in confidence, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand in the coming months.”

The nuts and bolts

Consumers were fairly optimistic about January's conditions. Those who saw business conditions as “good” rose slightly from 28.6% to 29.3%, while those saying business conditions are “bad” went from 17.8% to 16.1%.

Their assessment of the labor market was also more positive than it was last month. The percentage of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” rose from 26.0% to 27.4%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” fell from 22.7% to 21.5%.

The short-term outlook, which had increased considerably in December, declined in this month. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months dropped from 24.7% to 23.1%; those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 8.9% to 10.7%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was somewhat mixed. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead fell from 21.7% to 19.8%, while those anticipating fewer jobs was virtually unchanged at 14.0%. The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell to 18.0% from 21.5%, while the proportion expecting a decline rose from 8.6% to 9.6%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was January 19.

The new year got off to a rocky start insofar as the way consumers see things.The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index dipped a point...

A big November bounce in consumer confidence

The results bode well for the holiday shopping season

After posting a modest decline a month earlier, consumer confidence is up strongly in November.

According to The Conference Board, its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 107.1, a gain of 6.3 points from October.

The Present Situation Index jumped 7.2 points to 130.3, while the Expectations Index went from 86.0 last month to 91.7.

The increase puts consumer confidence at pre-recession levels. “A more favorable assessment of current conditions coupled with a more optimistic short-term outlook helped boost confidence,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco.

“And while the majority of consumers were surveyed before the presidential election,” she points out, “it appears from the small sample of post-election responses that consumers’ optimism was not impacted by the outcome. With the holiday season upon us, a more confident consumer should be welcome news for retailers.”

How consumers see it

The assessment by consumers of current conditions improved in November. The percentage saying business conditions are “good” went from 26.5% to 29.2%, while those saying business conditions are “bad” fell from 17.3% to 14.8%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was moderately more positive than last month. The percentage of consumers who think jobs are “plentiful” increased from 25.3% to 26.9%, while those who believe they’re “hard to get” was unchanged at 21.7%.

Consumers’ short-term outlook -- on balance -- was more optimistic in November. The percentage who look for business conditions to improve over the next six months fell from 16.4% to 15.3%; however, those expecting them to worsen also fell -- from 11.8% to 10.0%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was mixed as well. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead was virtually unchanged at 14.5%, but those anticipating fewer jobs fell from 16.6% to 13.8%.

When it comes to income, the percentage looking for an increase -- 17.5% -- was little changed from last month, while the proportion expecting a drop fell from 10.2% to 9.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was November 15.

After posting a modest decline a month earlier, consumer confidence is up strongly in November.According to The Conference Board, its Consumer Confiden...

Consumer confidence down for first time in three months

The short-term outlook softened a bit

After posting gains in each of the previous two months, consumer confidence in the economy took a negative turn in October.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index slipped 4.9 points in October -- to 98.6, with the Present Situation Index dropping from 127.9 to 120.6 and the Expectations Index falling to 83.9 from 82.7 the month before

“Consumers’ assessment of current business and employment conditions softened, said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “while optimism regarding the short-term outlook retreated somewhat.

However she notes that consumers’ expectations regarding their income prospects in the coming months were relatively unchanged. “Overall, sentiment is that the economy will continue to expand in the near-term, but at a moderate pace,” she concluded

The view from consumers

Appraisal of current conditions softened this month, with those who said business conditions are “good” dipping from 27.7% to 26.2% and those who think they're “bad” rising from 15.8% to 17.7%.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also less positive than last month. Those who see jobs as “plentiful” dropped to 24.3% from 27.6%; however, those who think jobs are “hard to get” slipped from 22.3% to 22.1%.

There was less optimism regarding the short-term outlook in October. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months declined to 16.0% from 17.0%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 10.8% to 12.2%.

Regarding the labor market, the proportion of consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead fell from 15.7% to 13.1%. At the same time, though, those anticipating fewer jobs declined from 18.1% to 17.0%.

The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase was unchanged at 17.5%, while the proportion expecting a decline dropped to 9.8% from 10.4%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cut-off date for the preliminary results was October 13.

After posting gains in each of the previous two months, consumer confidence in the economy took a negative turn in October.The Conference Board reports...

Another month of rising consumer confidence

Consumers seem bullish on the present and the future

Consumers' views on the economy improved in September for a second straight month.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index was up 2.3 points from August for a reading of 104.1. Within that, the Present Situation Index rose from 125.3 to 128.5, while the Expectations Index improved from 86.1 last month to 87.8.

“Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved, primarily the result of a more positive view of the labor market, said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco.

“Looking ahead, consumers are more upbeat about the short-term employment outlook, but somewhat neutral about business conditions and income prospects. Overall, consumers continue to rate current conditions favorably and foresee moderate economic expansion in the months ahead.”

Here and now

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in September. While those who say business conditions are “good” decreased from 30.3% to 27.4%, those who think conditions are “bad” fell from 18.2% to 16.2%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was more positive than last month. Those who believe jobs are “plentiful” inched up from 26.8% to 27.9%, and those who said jobs are “hard to get” dipped to 21.6% from 22.8%.

Looking ahead

There was an increase in optimism regarding the short-term outlook in September. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months slipped from 17.6% to 16.5%. However, those expecting business conditions to worsen also declined -- from 11.4% to 10.2%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 14.4% to 15.1%, while those who think there will be fewer jobs was down 0.5% to 17.0%.

The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell from 18.5% to 17.1%. At the same time, the proportion anticipating a decline dropped to 10.3% from 11.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 15.

Consumers' views on the economy improved in September for a second straight month.The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index was up 2.3...

Consumer confidence bounced back in August

Improvement came in income prospects and employment

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index is at its highest level in nearly a year.

After falling slightly in July, the Index now stands at 101.1, a gain of 4.4. The Present Situation Index rose from 118.8 to 123.0, while the Expectations Index improved to 86.4 from 82.0.

“Consumers’ assessment of both current business and labor market conditions was considerably more favorable than last month,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Short-term expectations regarding business and employment conditions, as well as personal income prospects, also improved, suggesting the possibility of a moderate pick-up in growth in the coming months.”

Current conditions outlook

Consumers who think business conditions are “good” increased from 27.3% to 30.0%, while the proportion of those who see the opposite was unchanged at 18.4%.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also more favorable. Those saying jobs are more “plentiful” increased from 23.0% to 26.0%. At the same time, however, those who believe jobs are “hard to get” also rose -- to 23.4% from 22.1%.

Looking ahead

There was more optimism regarding the short-term outlook in August. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 15.7% to 17.3%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen dropped from 12.4% to 11.1%.

The outlook for the labor market was more favorable than in July. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead rose from 13.5% to 14.2%, while those anticipating losses held steady at 17.5%.

The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to rise went from 17.1% to 18.8%, while those expecting a decline were down marginally to 10.7% from 11.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was August 18.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index is at its highest level in nearly a year.After falling slightly in July, the Index now stands at 101.1...

Consumer confidence shows little change in July

Cautious optimism is the watchword this election year

Not much movement during July in the way consumers see the economy.

According to The Conference Board, its Consumer Confidence Index was relatively unchanged this month after increasing in June. The Index now stands at 97.3, virtually the same as the 97.4 it registered the month before.

The Present Situation Index rose to 118.3, and the Expectations Index dipped to 83.3 from 84.6.

“Consumers were slightly more positive about current business and labor market conditions, suggesting the economy will continue to expand at a moderate pace,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Expectations regarding business and labor market conditions, as well as personal income prospects, declined slightly as consumers remain cautiously optimistic about growth in the near-term.”

How they see it

Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved slightly during the month, with those who see business conditions as “good” increasing from 26.8% to 28.1%. At the same time, though, those who said conditions are “bad” also rose, from 18.3% to 19.0%.

There wasn't much change in the way that consumers looked at the labor market. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” slipped from 23.2% to 23.0%, while those who believe they're hard “hard to get” also dropped -- from 23.7% to 22.3%.

The view of the short-term outlook was slightly less favorable in July. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months fell from 16.6% to 15.9%; those who say business conditions will get worse rose to 12.3% from 11.2% in June.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was a touch more favorable than last month. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead was virtually unchanged at 14.0%, while those anticipating fewer jobs fell 0.7% -- to 17.0%.

The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to rise fell from 18.2% to 16.6%; however the proportion expecting to earn less also declined -- from 11.3% to 10.8%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 14.

Not much movement during July in the way consumers see the economy.According to The Conference Board, its Consumer Confidence Index was relatively unch...

A strong rebound for consumer confidence

'Cautious optimism' is the June takeaway

A nice comeback for consumer confidence in June.

After falling nearly two points in May -- to 92.4 -- The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index® shot up more than five points this month to 98.0. The Present Situation Index jumped from 113.2 to 118.3, while the Expectations Index rose to 84.5 from 78.5.

“Consumers were less negative about current business and labor market conditions, but only moderately more positive, suggesting no deterioration in economic conditions, but no strengthening either,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Expectations regarding business and labor market conditions, as well as personal income prospects, improved moderately. Overall, consumers remain cautiously optimistic about economic growth in the short-term.”

The current situation

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved in June. Those who said business conditions are “good” inched up from 26.1% to 26.9%, while those holding the opposing view dropped from 21.4% to 17.7%.

The assessment of the labor market was mixed. Consumers who think jobs are “plentiful” slipped from 24.5% to 23.4%. At the same time, those who believe jobs are “hard to get” also decreased -- from 24.5% to 23.3%.

Looking ahead

Optimism regarding the short-term outlook improved in June. Those who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose from 15.0% to 16.8%, while those looking for conditions to get worse was down to 11.4% from 11.7%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more favorable than in May. The percentage anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased from 12.5% to 14.2%, while those saying there will be fewer jobs decreased dipped from 18.2% to 17.9%.

The proportion of consumers who expect their incomes to increase advanced to 18.2% from 16.5%, while the proportion expecting a reduction fell 1.1% -- to 11.5%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was June 16.

A nice comeback for consumer confidence in June.After falling nearly two points in May -- to 92.4 -- The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index® ...

Consumer confidence down in May for second straight month

Personal incomes and spending were on the rise

Another drop -- the second in as many months -- for consumer confidence.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, fell to 92.6 in May from 94.7 a month earlier.

Both the Present Situation Index and the Expectations Index were lower, dropping from 117.1 to 112.9, and 79.7 to 79.0, respectively.

A large part of the decline was due to consumers rating current conditions less favorably than in April. In addition, “Expectations declined further,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, “as consumers remain cautious about the outlook for business and labor market conditions. Thus, they continue to expect little change in economic activity in the months ahead.”

How they see it

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions weakened in May, with the percentage seeing business conditions as “good” improving from 24.2% to 25.9%, but those saying business conditions are “bad” also increasing -- from 18.2% to 21.6%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was less favorable. The proportion who think jobs are “plentiful” was virtually unchanged at 24.3%; however, those who say they are “hard to get” rose from 22.8% to 24.4%.

Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook than last month. Those who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose from 13.8% to 15.1%, while those expecting them to worsen also rose -- from 10.8% to 11.6%.

The outlook for the labor market also was less favorable. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead was roughly the same at 12.8%; those anticipating fewer jobs jumped from 16.7% to 18.1%.

The proportion of consumers who see their incomes rising improved from 15.8% to 16.2%, while those expecting a reduction held at 12.4%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 19.

Personal income, spending

The Commerce Department reports that personal income increased $69.8 billion, or 0.4% in April, while disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after personal current taxes -- rose $63.5 billion, or 0.5%.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), meanwhile, increased $119.2 billion, or 1.0%.

Compensation

Wages and salaries were up $38.6 billion, after rising $30.7 billion in March. With that, private wages and salaries increased $37.2 billion, and government wages and salaries increased $1.4 billion.

Personal outlays and saving

Personal outlays -- PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments -- soared to $121.7 billion in April, compared with an increase of just $1.8 billion in March.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was down to $751.1 billion in April from $809.4  billion the month before. As a result, the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- dropped to 5.4%, from 5.9%.

The full report is on the Commerce Department website.

Another drop -- the second in as many months -- for consumer confidence.The Conference Board reports its Consu...

Consumer confidence dips in April

Expectations for the months ahead have soured

Expectations for the economy in the months ahead have dimmed, sending The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index lower in April.

After posting a modest increase in March, the Index dipped 1.9 to 94.2. While the Present Situation Index rose from 114.9 to 116.4, the Expectations Index dropped from 83.6 to 79.3 in April.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved, suggesting no slowing in economic growth,” noted Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “However, their expectations regarding the short-term have moderated, suggesting they do not foresee any pickup in momentum.”

The current situation

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved somewhat, with those who think business conditions are “good” dipping from 24.9% to 23.2%. At the same time, those who see business conditions as “bad” declined as well -- from 19.2% to 18.1%.

Their appraisal of the labor market was mixed as well. Those who believe jobs are “plentiful” fell from 25.4% to 24.1%, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” also dropped from 25.2% to 22.7%.

Looking ahead

Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook in April than they were last month. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 14.7% to 13.4%, while those expecting them to worsen rose to 11.0% from 9.5%.

The outlook for the labor market was also less favorable. Those who anticipate more jobs in the months ahead slipped from 13.0% to 12.2%, while those who think there will be fewer jobs edged up from 16.3% to 17.2%.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase dropped 1.0% to 15.9%; those expecting to see their incomes go down also declined -- from 12.3% to 11.2%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was April 14.

Expectations for the economy in the months ahead have dimmed, sending The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index lower in April.After posting a m...

Consumers show a bit more confidence in March

The short-term outlook has become more favorable

It appears spring has brought with it a little consumer optimism about the course of the economy.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index has rebounded a bit from its February decline. After slipping to 94.0 last month, the Index now stands at 96.2.

The Present Situation Index dipped from 115.0 to 113.5, while the Expectations Index rose to 84.7 in March from 79.9.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions posted a moderate decline, while expectations regarding the short-term turned more favorable as last month’s turmoil in the financial markets appears to have abated,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators. “On balance,” she added, “consumers do not foresee the economy gaining any significant momentum in the near-term, nor do they see it worsening.”

Current conditions

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions eased in March, with those saying business conditions were “good” slipped from 26.5% to 24.9%. On the other hand,, those who said conditions are “bad” edged down from 19.0% to 18.8%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was mixed. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” rose from 22.8% to 25.4%, while consumers who believe jobs are “hard to get” also rose -- to 26.6% from 23.6%.

The outlook

Consumers were more optimistic about the short-term outlook than they were in February. The percentage expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months was up moderately to 15.0% from 14.5%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen was down sharply from 11.6% to 9.2%.

The outlook for the labor market was more favorable as well. Those who expect to see more jobs in the months ahead increased slightly from 12.2% to 12.9%, while those who think there will be fewer jobs fell from 17.7% to 16.3%.

The proportion of consumers expecting higher incomes dipped from 17.7% to 17.2%, while the proportion who believe their paychecks will shrink edged up from 11.6% to 11.8%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was March 17.

It appears spring has brought with it a little consumer optimism about the course of the economy.The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence I...

Decline in auto service customer satisfaction tied to soaring recalls

Audi and MINI dealers got the highest consumer ratings

For the first time in six years customer satisfaction with dealer service related to an automotive recall has declined, according to J.D. Power.

The drop, which came amid a record number of recalls, is the result of customers feeling that dealers don't give the same level of attention to recall work as they do to non-recall maintenance and repairs.

The firm's U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) study measures customer satisfaction with service at a franchised dealer facility for maintenance or repair work among owners and lessees of 1- to 5-year-old vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 51 million vehicles were recalled last year. And, as recall numbers soared, customer satisfaction with recall service dropped to 781 on a 1,000-point scale in 2016 -- a drop of eight points. Satisfaction among customers with non-recall servicing averages 809.

Shoddy treatment

Compared with customers having non-recall work performed, those having recall work done are less likely to have their vehicle returned to them cleaner and with the same settings as when they brought it in, and less likely to be contacted by the dealer after the service is complete.

"While it may be tempting for dealers to focus more on repair or maintenance work, recall customers represent both an opportunity and a risk to the brand and dealer," said Chris Sutton, vice president, U.S. automotive retail practice at J.D. Power. "There is a need for consistency in the service experience, regardless of the reason for the visit. A lack of consistency, particularly for recall work, can damage customers' perceptions of the brand and negatively impact their likelihood to recommend and repurchase the brand."

Nameplate rankings

Audi ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among luxury brands, with a score of 874. It's followed by Lexus (869), Cadillac (863), Mercedes-Benz (857), and Jaguar and Lincoln in a tie (856 each).

MINI ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among mass market brands, at 858. Buick (849), GMC (830), Chevrolet (818), and Hyundai (814) round out the top five.

For the first time in six years customer satisfaction with dealer service related to an automotive recall has declined, according to J.D. Power.The dro...

Consumer confidence reverses course in February

The view of the current situation grew bleaker

Consumers have turned bearish about the economic situation.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, after posting a moderate gain in January, turned downward this month, dipping from 97.8 to 92.2.

The decrease was led by the Present Situation Index, which fell from 116.6 to 112.1, and the Expectations Index, which dropped to 78.9 from January's reading of 85.3.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions weakened, primarily due to a less favorable assessment of business conditions,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ short-term outlook grew more pessimistic, with consumers expressing greater apprehension about business conditions, their personal financial situation, and to a lesser degree, labor market prospects.

Franco said continued turmoil in the financial markets may be rattling consumers, but their assessment of current conditions suggests the economy will continue to expand at a moderate pace in the near-term.”

Consumers’ assessments

The percentage of consumers saying business conditions were “good” decreased from 27.7% to 26.0%, while those who think they're “bad” increased from 18.8% to 19.8%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was also negative, with those who say jobs are “plentiful” falling from 23.0% to 22.1%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” rose to 24.2% from 23.6%.

Consumers were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook than in January. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months dropped from 15.9% to 14.6%, while those who look for conditions to worsen jumped to 12.0% from 10.7%.

Labor market outlook gloomy

Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 13.4% to 12.2%, while those expecting fewer jobs inched up from 17.0% to 17.2%.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell from 18.6% to 17.2%, while the proportion expecting a reduction rose from 10.7% to 12.5%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was February 11.

Consumers have turned bearish about the economic situation.The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, after posting a moderate gain in...

Consumer confidence up for a second straight month

People are expecting better business conditions and higher incomes

After increasing in December, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index was up moderately again in January, rising 1.8 points to 98.1. While the Present Situation Index was unchanged at 116.4, the Expectations Index advanced from 83.0 to 85.9.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions held steady, while their expectations for the next six months improved moderately,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “For now, consumers do not foresee the volatility in financial markets as having a negative impact on the economy.”

Little change seen in attitudes

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was relatively flat in January. The percentage saying business conditions are “good” was virtually unchanged at 27.2%, while those who said business conditions are “bad” declined slightly from 18.9% to 18.5%.

Their assessment of the labor market was modestly more positive. The proportion who see jobs as “plentiful” fell from 24.2% to 22.8%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” dipped to 23.4% from 24.5%.

Optimism about the short-term outlook improved somewhat. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to get better over the next six months rose from 14.5% to 16.2%, while those expecting them to worsen edged down from 10.8% to 10.3%.

The outlook for the labor market was also slightly more optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased from 12.4% to 13.2%, while those expecting fewer jobs dropped slightly from 16.8% to 16.5%.

The proportion of consumers looking for their incomes to increase improved from 16.3% to 18.1%. However, the proportion expecting a reduction in income also increased -- from 9.5% to 10.8%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was January 14.

After increasing in December, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index was up moderately again in January, rising 1.8 points to 98.1. While the Pre...

A rebound in consumer confidence

Consumers' assessment of the job market was a bit stronger in December

After declining moderately in November, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index showed a little improvement this month, rising 3.9 points from November -- to 96.5. In addition, the Present Situation Index increased from 110.9 last month to 115.3, and the Expectations Index rose to 83.9 from November's 80.4.

“As 2015 draws to a close, consumers’ assessment of the current state of the economy remains positive, particularly their assessment of the job market,” said Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Looking ahead to 2016, consumers are expecting little change in both business conditions and the labor market. Expectations regarding their financial outlook are mixed, but the optimists continue to outweigh the pessimists.”

A closer look

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was mixed in December. Those saying business conditions are “good” rose from 25.0% to 27.3%. However, those who see business conditions as “bad” also increased -- from 16.9% to 19.8%.

On the other hand, consumers were more positive about the labor market. The proportion who think jobs are “plentiful” jumped to 24.1% from 21.0%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 24.7% from 25.8%.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook was somewhat mixed. Those who expect business conditions will improve over the next six months dipped slightly to 15.2% from 15.7%. At the same time, those expecting business conditions to worsen inched up to 11.0% from 10.6%.

Crystal gazing

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead rose to 12.9% from 12.0%, while those anticipating fewer jobs dropped from 18.5% to 16.6%.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell from 17.3% to 16.3%, with the proportion expecting a reduction in income slipping from 11.8% to 9.7%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, which provides information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was December 15.

After declining moderately in November, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index showed a little improvement this month, rising 3.9 points from Nov...

Consumer confidence stumbles in October

Job market views took a hit

After posting a moderate gain in September, The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index retreated this month.

The index now stands at 97.6, a loss of five points from the previous month, while the Present Situation Index fell from 120.3 to 112.1, and the Expectations Index edged down to 88.0 from 90.8 in September.

“Consumers were less positive in their assessment of present-day conditions, in particular the job market, and were moderately less optimistic about the short-term outlook,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco, adding, “despite the decline, consumers still rate current conditions favorably, but they do not anticipate the economy strengthening much in the near-term.”

Consumers' appraisal

Consumers’ view of current conditions was somewhat less positive in October. Those saying business conditions are “good” dipped from 28.1% to 26.5%, while those who see conditions as “bad” rose from 16.4% to 18.3%. Respondents were also less upbeat about the job market. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 24.8% to 22.2%, while those who believe jobs are “hard to get” edged up to 25.8% from 24.9%.

Optimism about the short-term outlook was more subdued in October. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months was unchanged at 18.1%, while those who said business conditions will worsen inched up to 10.6% from 10.4%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was slightly less optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead declined from 14.9% to 14.5%, while those expecting fewer jobs rose from 15.9% to 16.9%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to rise slipped from 18.7% to 18.0%, while the proportion who believe there will be a decline increased from 9.9% to 10.7%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was October 15.

After posting a moderate in September, The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index retreated this month. The index now stands at 97.6 a loss of five p...

Consumer confidence ticks higher in September

Still, there's an air of caution about the months ahead

After posting a substantial gain last month, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index moved moderately higher in September and now stands at 103.0.

The Present Situation Index jumped from 115.8 to 121.1 this month, while the Expectations Index edged down to 91.0 from 91.6 in August.

“Consumers’ more positive assessment of current conditions fueled this month’s increase,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, “and drove the Present Situation Index to an 8-year high. Consumers’ expectations for the short-term outlook, however, remained relatively flat, although there was a modest improvement in income expectations. Thus, while consumers view current economic conditions more favorably, they do not foresee growth accelerating in the months ahead.”

The consumers' eye view

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was more positive in September. Those who say business conditions are “good” increased from 23.7% to 28%, while those who see them as “bad” dipped from 17.8% to 16.7%.

The view of the job market was mixed. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” rose from 22.1% to 25.1%. At the same time, those who believe jobs are “hard to get” also rose from 21.7% to 24.3%.

Optimism about the short-term outlook was little changed. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 16.6% to 17.9%, but those expecting business conditions to worsen also increased -- from 9.1% to 10.3%.

The outlook for the labor market was mixed. Those who think there will be more jobs in the months ahead was virtually unchanged at 15.0%, while those anticipating fewer jobs rose from 14.5% to 15.8%.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to rise improved from 16.2% to 19.1%, while the proportion expecting a decline inched up from 9.8% to 10.1%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 17.

After posting a substantial gain last month, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index moved moderately higher in September and now stands at 103.0....

A surge in consumer confidence

The jobs outlook appears more upbeat

Consumers are feeling a whole lot better about the economy than they did in July.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, which which lost ground last month, rebounded in August and now stands at 101.5. The Present Situation Index shot from 104.0 to 115.1, while the Expectations Index improved to 92.5 from 82.3 a month earlier.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was considerably more upbeat, primarily due to a more favorable appraisal of the labor market,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The uncertainty expressed last month about the short-term outlook has dissipated and consumers are once again feeling optimistic about the near future. Income expectations, however, were little improved.”

How they see it

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was considerably more favorable in August. Those saying business conditions are “good” dipped slightly from 23.4% to 23.2%. Those who think business conditions are “bad” dropped from 18.2% to 17.6%.

There was a more positive view of the job market. Those who believe jobs are “plentiful” rose 2% -- to 21.9%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” plunged from 27.4% to 21.9%.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook also improved. The percentage of those expecting business conditions to get better over the next six months increased from 15.3% to 15.8%, while those expecting it to worsen declined from 10.3% to 8.3%.

The outlook for the labor market was more upbeat. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead rose to 14.6% from 13.7%, while those who think there will be fewer jobs was down sharply from 19.0% to 13.6%.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined moderately from 17.0% to 16.2%, while the proportion expecting a decline dropped from 11.3% to 10.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cut-off date for the preliminary results was August 13.

Consumers are feeling a whole lot better about the economy than they did in July. The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, which which ...

A slide in consumer confidence

Job concerns is among the causes

After showing some improvement in June, The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index posted a decline in July. It now stands at 90.9 after rising to 99.8 the previous month.

The Present Situation Index dipped moderately from 110.3 last month to 107.4, while the Expectations Index plummeted to 79.9 from 92.8 in June.

“Consumers continue to assess current conditions favorably, but their short-term expectations deteriorated this month,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “A less optimistic outlook for the labor market, and perhaps the uncertainty and volatility in financial markets prompted by the situation in Greece and China, appears to have shaken consumers’ confidence. Overall, the Index remains at levels associated with an expanding economy and a relatively confident consumer.”

The consumers-eye view

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was somewhat less favorable in July. Those who see business conditions as “good” fell from 26.1% to 24.2%. However, those who believe conditions are “bad” was virtually unchanged at 17.9%.

Consumers were slightly less positive about the job market. Those who said jobs are “plentiful” dropped to 20.7% from 21.3%, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” inched up from 26.1% to 26.7%.

Optimism about the short-term outlook was down sharply in July. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next 6 months declined from 17.9% to 14.7%; those who see conditions worsening rose from 10.2% to 10.7%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was even less optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 17.1% to 13.1%, while those expecting fewer jobs jumped from 15.2% to 20.0%. The proportion of consumers expecting growth in their incomes edged down from 17.6% to 17.0%, while the proportion expecting a decline rose slightly from 10.6% to 11.2%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 16.

After showing some improvement in June, The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index posted a decline in July. It now stands at 90.9 after rising to 99....

Consumer confidence soars in June

Optimism is expected to fuel an increase in spending

May was good; June was even better.

After posting a modest gain the month before, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index shot up in June to 101.4 from 94.6. Also encouraging was an increase in the Present Situation Index to 111.6 from 107.1, and an advance in the Expectations Index from 86.2 last month to 94.6.

“Over the past two months, consumers have grown more confident about the current state of business and employment conditions,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “In addition, they are now more optimistic about the near-term future, although sentiment regarding income prospects is little changed. Overall, consumers are in considerably better spirits and their renewed optimism could lead to a greater willingness to spend in the near-term.”

A closer look

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved again in June. Those who say business conditions are “good” increased from 24.7% to 26.4%, while those who see them as “bad” was virtually unchanged at 17.8%.

Consumers were also more positive about the job market. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” rose to 21.4% from 20.6%, while those with an opposing view fell from 27.2% to 25.7%.

Optimism about the short-term outlook also increased in June. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next 6 months jumped from 16.0% to 18.5%, while those who believe conditions will worsen dropped from 11.3% to 9.8%.

Jobs & income

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead went up from 14.7% to 17.8%, while those expecting fewer jobs slipped to 15.1% from 16.6%.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes will rise was pretty much unchanged at 17.5%, while those who think there'll be a decline edged down slightly from 10.7% to 10.2%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was June 18.

May was good; June was even better. After posting a modest gain the month before, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index shot up in June to 101....

A May rebound for consumer confidence

Consumers are more upbeat about the labor market

After posting a decline in April, The Conference Board' Consumer Confidence Index increased moderately this month.

It now stands at 95.4 -- up 1.1 from the previous month's reading. The Present Situation Index rose 3 points -- to 108.1, while the Expectations Index edged down to 86.9 from 87.1.

“After a three-month slide, the Present Situation Index increased, propelled by a more positive assessment of the labor market,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Expectations, however, were relatively flat following a steep decline in April. While current conditions in the second quarter appear to be improving, consumers still remain cautious about the short-term outlook.”

Gauging the consumer view

Consumers’ assessment of current-day conditions improved in May. Those saying business conditions are “good” edged down from 25.5% to 25.2 percent. However, those who think they're “bad” also decreased -- from 19.2 % to 17.4%.

The assessment of the job market was mixed. Those who see jobs as “plentiful” rose from 19.0% to 20.7%, while those saying they are “hard to get” rose from 25.9% to 27.3%.

Optimism about the short-term outlook edged lower in May. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next 6 months inched up from 15.4% to 15.6%, while those who predict business conditions will worsen also increased -- from 9.1% to 10.8%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market, however, improved. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased from 13.8% to 14.6%, while those who look for fewer jobs declined from 16.4% to 15.5%.

The proportion of consumers expecting growth in their incomes was unchanged at 17.4%, while the proportion expecting a decline rose slightly from 10.8% to 11.1%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 15.

After posting a decline in April, The Conference Board' Consumer Confidence Index increased moderately this month. It now stands at 95.4 -- up 1.1 from th...

A rebound in consumer confidence

Bullishness about employment drove the turnaround

After posting a decline in February, consumers' outlook for the economy brightened during March.

The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index rose two and a-half points last month and now stands at 101.3. The Expectations Index was up 6 points -- to 96.0 in March, while the Present Situation Index, dropped from 112.1 in February to 109.1.

The March increase, said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, “was driven by an improved short-term outlook for both employment and income prospects; consumers were less upbeat about business conditions.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined for the second consecutive month, suggesting that growth may have softened in the first quarter, she said, adding it “doesn’t appear to be gaining any significant momentum heading into the spring months.”

The consumers' assessment

The view of consumers of present-day conditions turned moderately less favorable for a second straight month. The percentage saying business conditions are “good” was unchanged at 26.7%, while those who see business conditions as “bad” increased from 16.7% to 19.4%.

Consumers were mixed in their perceptions of the job market. The proportion stating jobs are “plentiful” edged up from 20.3% to 20.6%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” also edged up from 25.1% to 25.4%.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook, which had declined in February, rebounded last month. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased slightly -- from 17.6% to 16.7%; however, those expecting business conditions to worsen also fell, from 8.9% to 8.0%.

The outlook for the labor market saw stronger gains. Those who expect there will be more jobs in the months ahead jumped from 13.8% to 15.5%, while those expecting fewer jobs declined from 14.8% to 13.5%.

The proportion of consumers who think their incomes will improve rose from 16.4% to 18.4%, while the proportion expecting to have less money in their pockets declined from 10.8 percent to 9.9 percent.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was March 19.

After posting a decline in February, consumers' outlook for the economy brightened during March. The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence rose tw...

Some consumer confidence giveback

The February decline follows a gain in January

After hitting it's highest level in 7 years during January, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index fell sharply in February.

The Index now stands at 96.4 down 7.4 from January, with the Present Situation Index dropping to 110.2 from 113.9, and the Expectations Index declining to 87.2 from 97.0 in January.

Still on the upside

“After a large gain in January, consumer confidence retreated in February, but still remains at pre-recession levels,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remained positive,” she added, “but short-term expectations declined. While the number of consumers expecting conditions to deteriorate was virtually unchanged, fewer consumers expect conditions to improve, prompting a less upbeat outlook.

Franco says despite this month’s decline, “consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand at the current pace in the months ahead.”

How they see it

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was moderately less favorable in February than in January. Those saying business conditions are “good” fell from 28.2% to 26.0%, however those who think business conditions are “bad” declined from 17.3% to 17.0%.

Consumers were also somewhat less positive in their assessment of the job market, with the proportion stating jobs are “plentiful” dipped from 20.7% to 20.5%, and those who see jobs as “hard to get” rising from 24.6% to 26.2%.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook was considerably less positive in February. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next 6 months dropped from 18.9% to 16.1%, while those who expect conditions to worsen increased from 8.2% to 8.7%.

The outlook for the labor market was also less optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead fell from 17.3% to 13.4%. However, those think there will be fewer jobs declined from 14.8% to 14.3%. The proportion of consumers expecting growth in their incomes dropped to 15.1% from 19.5%. The percentage expecting a decline rose from 10.8% to 12.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was February 12.

After hitting it's highest level in 7 years during January, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index fell sharply in February. The Index now stan...

Consumer confidence hits highest point in 7+ years

Both the long-and-short-term outlooks have improved

Consumers seem to be felling their oats.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, which had inched higher in December, rose sharply this month. The Index now stands at 102.9 -- up 9.8 from December. The Present Situation Index rose to 112.6 from 99.9, while the Expectations Index increased to 96.4 from 88.5.

With the big January increase, consumer confidence is now at its highest level since August 2007. “A more positive assessment of current business and labor market conditions contributed to the improvement in consumers’ view of the present situation,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers also expressed a considerably higher degree of optimism regarding the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market, as well as their earnings.”

Through consumers' eyes

Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions was considerably more favorable in January than last month. Those saying business conditions are “good” increased from 24.7% to 28.1%, while those who describe them as “bad” decreased from 18.9% to 16.8%. They were also much more positive in their assessment of the job market. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” rose from 17.2% to 20.5%. Those who said they're “hard to get” dipped to 25.7% from 27.3%.

Optimism about the short-term outlook was more positive. Consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next 6 months rose from 17.8% to 18.4%, while those expecting them to worsen dropped from 9.9% to 7.7%.

The outlook for the labor market also showed improvement. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased from 14.6% to 16.7%, while those who see fewer jobs was down to 15.0% from 16.5%.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to grow surged from 16.2% to 20.0%, while those who think they'll make less money rose from 10.2% to 11.3%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch.

The cutoff date for the preliminary results was January 15.

Consumers seem to be felling their oats. The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, which had inched higher in December, rose sharply thi...

A December rebound for consumer confidence

Confidence improved with the approach of the end of 2014

After posting a decline in November, consumer confidence in the economy showed some improvement this month.

According to the Conference Board, its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 92.6 in December from 91.0 the previous month. The Present Situation Index shot from 93.7 to 98.6, while the Expectations Index dipped to 88.5 from 89.3.

The rebound in consumer in December was “propelled by a considerably more favorable assessment of current economic and labor market conditions,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “As a result,” she adds, “the Present Situation Index is now at its highest level since February 2008. Consumers were moderately less optimistic about the short-term outlook in December, but even so, they are more confident at year-end than they were at the beginning of the year.”

Favorable current conditions

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was considerably more favorable in December. Those who said business conditions are “good” was unchanged at 24.8 percent, while those who think they are “bad” fell from 21.8% to 19.6%.

Consumers' assessment of the job market was more positive, with those who believe jobs are “plentiful” increased from 16.2% to 17.1%, and those said jobs are “hard to get” fell from 28.7% to 27.7%.

Optimism about the short-term outlook eased a bit this month. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next 6 months edged slipped from 18.3% to 18.0%, while those expecting things to get worse dropped from 10.4% to 10.1%.

Jobs and income outlook

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was marginally less optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 15.5% to 14.7%, while those expecting fewer jobs rose from 16.1% to 16.9%. People expecting growth in their incomes fell moderately from 16.9% to 16.4%; however the proportion expecting a decline also dropped -- from 11.0% to 10.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was December 16.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had After posing a decline in November, consumer confidence in the economy showed some improvement...

Consumer confidence yo-yoing continues in November

Optimism faded after the October rebound

Consumers appear to be a little skittish heading into the Christmas shopping season.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, which had rebounded in October from a September decline,fell again in November.

The Index now stands at 88.7 down 5.4 points from October. The Present Situation Index dropped from 94.4 to 91.3, while the Expectations Index posted a 6.8-point plunge -- to 87.0.

A dip in optimism

“Consumers were somewhat less positive about current business conditions and the present state of the job market; moreover, their optimism in the short-term outlook in both areas has waned,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “However, income expectations were virtually unchanged and gas prices remain low, which should help boost holiday sales.”

Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions was moderately less favorable this month than in October. The proportion saying business conditions are “good” slipped from 24.7% to 24.0%, while those who think business conditions are “bad” increased from 21.3% to 22.4%.

Consumers also saw the job market as slightly less favorable, with the proportion stating jobs are “plentiful” falling from 16.5% to 16.0%, and those who believe jobs are “hard to get” edging up from 29.0% to 29.2%.

Consumer optimism, which had improved last month, retreated in November. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months dropped from 19.4% to 17.6%, while those looking for a worsening jumped from 8.9% to 10.7%.

The outlook for the labor market was also less optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead dropped 1% -- to 15.0%, while those who see fewer jobs rose from 14.1% to 16.4%. The proportion of consumers expecting growth in their incomes slipped from 16.7% to 16.3%, while the proportion expecting a drop in income was virtually unchanged at 11.4% versus 11.3% in October.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was November 13.

Consumers appear to be a little skittish heading into the Christmas shopping season. The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, which had...

A rebound in consumer confidence

Business conditions and the job market appear brighter

After posting a decline in September, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index jumped 6.5 this month to stand at 94.5.

Of particular note were increases in the Present Situation Index, which edged up from 93.0 to 93.7, and the Expectations Index which posted a sharp gain from 8.6.4 to 95.0.

Brighter prospects

“A more favorable assessment of the current job market and business conditions contributed to the improvement in consumers’ view of the present situation,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Looking ahead, consumers have regained confidence in the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market, and are more optimistic about their future earnings potential. With the holiday season around the corner, this boost in confidence should be a welcome sign for retailers.”

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was moderately more favorable in October than in September. While the proportion saying conditions are “good” inched up from 24.2% to 24.5%, those claiming business conditions are “bad” also increased slightly, from 21.2% to 21.7%.

Consumers’ assessment of the job market improved moderately, with those saying jobs are “plentiful” increasing from 16.3% to 16.5%, and those who think jobs are “hard to get” declining slightly from 29.4% to 29.1%.

Rising optimism

Consumers’ optimism, which had declined considerably in September, improved in October. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 19.0% to 19.6%, while those expecting them to worsen fell from 11.4% to 9.3%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market also improved markedly. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 16.8% from 16.0%, while those anticipating fewer jobs fell from 16.9% to 13.9%.

The proportion of consumers looking for growth in their incomes rose from 16.9% in September to 17.7% in October, while those saying incomes will drop fell from 13.4% to 11.6%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was October 16.

After posting a decline in September. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index jumped 6.5 this month to stand at 94.5. Of particular note were inc...

Another increase in consumer spending

A boost in real wages gets the credit

Consumers are earning more money -- and spending it.

According to the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index, which tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending, consumer outlays were higher in September for a second straight month.

The index, which is made up of 4 components -- tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices -- increased to 4.21 from 4.11 in August.

“A rise in real wages boosted the index this month,” said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s senior U.S. economist. “Although unemployment claims remain at the level of the previous month, seeing them continue to hover around the 300,000 mark is a positive sign for the labor market.

“The uptick in wages -- although only of one month’s duration -- is also consistent with the improving labor market,” he continued. “If employment and wages continue this positive trajectory, consumers are likely to respond with more confidence and higher spending.”

Index highlights

  • Tax burden: The tax rate has been effectively unchanged with a marginal increase to 11.8%.
  • Initial unemployment claims: Claims were back over the 300,000 mark to 303,000, but still were down 10.3% from the same period last year.
  • Real wages: Real hourly wages were up 0.5% from the previous month as well as the same period last year -- increasing to $8.86 in September.
  • Real median new home price: New home prices fell 1.4% from the prior month to $116,000, but prices are still 5.9% higher than the same period last year.

Looking ahead

Steady economic improvements influencing consumer spending point to a more optimistic outlook for the year-end shopping season. “With the holidays beginning, an economy on a more even keel will be a welcome sign for retailers,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail and distribution sector leader. “Deloitte is forecasting a 4 to 4.5% increase in overall holiday sales this year, as consumers’ spending levels are likely to increase on the heels of personal income, job and stock market gains. Holiday cheer may be making a comeback as families look to release pent-up demand and regain confidence in the economy.”

Consumers are earning more money -- and spending it. According to the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index, which tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator o...

Consumer spending dips in September, Gallup says

The findings did not come as a surprise

Self-reports of spending by U.S. consumers dropped to an average of $87 in September -- a decline of $7 from both July and August. At the same time, though, the report by Gallup found spending last month was $3 higher than it was last year.

These findings are based on daily tracking interviews with more than 14,000 consumers, who were asked to report the total amount they spent "yesterday" in stores, gas stations, restaurants, or online -- not counting home and vehicle purchases, or normal monthly bills -- giving an indication of their discretionary spending.

Nothing to see here

The drop in spending Gallup found in September is not unusual. Since 2010, spending has dropped each year from August and September, although the size of the drop has varied. The consistent declines may be the result of increased spending in August on back-to-school purchases and summer vacations.

September's $7 drop in average spending is comparable with past August-to-September drops. Last year, the drop was $11 -- from $95 in August to $84 in September.

Monthly averages in self-reported spending so far in 2014 have generally exceeded average spending for the corresponding month in 2013, and especially so for 2009 to 2012, when averages were generally in the $60 to $70 range. However, this year's monthly averages are still lower than the nearly $100 averages seen in 2008.

Affluent consumers pull back

Daily self-reports of spending among upper-income consumers (those with annual household incomes of $90,000 a year or more) fell last month for the second month in a row -- to average $140 a day -- well below the 12-month high of $190 in July, and near February's 12-month low of $135.

Spending among middle- and lower-income consumers -- which tends to be much more stable -- dropped only slightly -- from $80 in August to an average of $77 in September. Reported spending among this group in the past 12 months has fallen into the narrow range of $84 (in December 2013) to $69 (in January 2014).

What’s it mean?

While consumers' average self-reported daily spending dropped in September, decreases from August to September are common, and average September spending this year exceeded September spending last year. With consumer spending a major driver of the U.S. economy, changes in average spending can reflect how the economy is doing.

Spending has generally increased since 2010, during the aftermath of the recession. And, compared with September 2013, spending increased this September. However, the consecutive two-month drop in spending among upper-income consumers could be a troubling sign, as this group generally has higher discretionary spending than those in the middle- and lower-income brackets.

Self-reports of spending by U.s. consumers dropped to an average of $87 in September -- a decline of $7 from both July and August. At the same time, though...

Consumers feeling less confident in September

It's the first decline in five months

After posting an increase in August, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index slumped in September, dropping from 93.4 to 80.6.

In addition, the Present Situation Index fell to 89.4 from 93.9, and the Expectations Index dropped more than 9 points -- to 83.7.

The September retreat came after 4 consecutive months of improvement.

“A less positive assessment of the current job market, most likely due to the recent softening in growth, was the sole reason for the decline in consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Looking ahead, consumers were less confident about the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market, and somewhat mixed regarding their future earnings potential. All told, consumers expect economic growth to ease in the months ahead.”

Not a lot of optimism

Consumers assessed current conditions less favorably in September versus a month ago. Their view of business conditions was virtually unchanged, with those saying conditions are “good” falliung slightly from 23.5 to 23.4%; those who think business conditions are “bad” held constant at 21.3%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the job market declined more appreciably, with the proportion stating jobs are “plentiful” dropped from 17.6% to 15.1%. Those who believe jobs are “hard to get” was barely changed, at 30.1% versus 30.0 percent in August.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook declined considerably in September. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next 6 months fell from 20.8% to 18.6%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen rose from 9.9% to 12.0%.

The outlook for the labor market likewise took a downturn. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead fell from 17.8% to 15.2%, while those expecting fewer jobs rose from 15.2% to 17.8%.

The proportion of consumers looking for their incomes to grow rose in September to 16.8%, from 15.5% in August. However, the proportion expecting a drop in income also rose -- to 13.4% from 11.6% a month ago.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 18.

After posting an increase in August, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index slumped in September, dropping from 93.4 to 80.6. In addition, the...

A bump to higher ground for consumer spending

An improving labor market may have consumers feeling more confident

In what may be a sign of better things to come, the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index (Index) picked up in August. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

“A notable decrease in initial unemployment insurance claims helped push the Index up,” said Deloitte Senior U.S. Economist Daniel Bachman. “An improving labor market can be a boon to consumer confidence. If these trends continue, there is a strong likelihood that we could see an acceleration of economic growth in the latter part of the year.”

The Index, which ecompasses 4 components -- tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices -- increased to 3.96 this month from 3.70 last month.

“The uptick in the Index suggests optimism as retailers anticipate the all important holiday shopping season,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail and distribution sector leader. “These economic fundamentals along with lower gas prices may encourage consumers to pick up their spending in the months ahead.”

Retailers, Paul said, should take a closer look at inventory with this optimism in mind to get an early read on what’s hot -- both in store and online, in case they need to pull some last minute levers to replenish merchandise. “Retailers should also assess their cyber security levels as attackers may be especially motivated to be more aggressive during peak periods like the holiday season,” Paul continued, adding, “retailers will not only need to be vigilant about suspicious activity, but prepared to quickly address and recover from any incidents.”

Index highlights

  • Tax burden: The tax rate continues a steady hold at 11.7%, showing a marginal increase from the prior month.
  • Initial unemployment claims: Claims decreased notably to 296,000, and furthermore were down 10.5% from the same period last year.
  • Real Wages: Real hourly wages increased slightly to $8.80 and were up a slight 0.3% up from the same period last year.
  • Real median new home price: New home prices continue to fluctuate as they fell 3.% from the prior month -- to $113,000.
In what may be a sign of better things to come, the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index (Index) picked up in August. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an...

Consumers hold the line in July

The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index was generally flat

Not much movement in the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index during July. In fact, the Index was effectively unchanged in during that month and was relatively flat over the past three months. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

“There were only small movements among the key components of the Index to drive a change in consumers’ spending plans,” said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s senior U.S. economist. “Home prices dipped slightly, and real wages grew at a slower pace compared with the last 12 months. On a positive note, the tax rate declined slightly. Despite some fluctuation recently, unemployment insurance claims are still hovering in the 300,000 range.”

The Index, which is made up of 4 components -- tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices – fell to 3.56 from 3.74 in June.

Consumer uncertainty

Continued economic fluctuations in areas such as housing and unemployment are cited as the main reasons that consumers are still hesitant to spend robustly. “Aside from a slow economic recovery, we’ve seen other factors challenging retailers -- particularly in our just released back-to-school and back-to-college studies,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman of Deloitte, and retail and distribution sector leader.

“Consumers” she added, “are planning to shop smarter, often buying items on a just as-needed basis. As a result, the traditionally anticipated back-to-school shopping trip is not the event it once was. The convenience of 24/7 online access allows parents -- and students -- to shop any time, not just during the traditional mid- to late-summer back-to-school period.”

Given these factors, Paul says retailers need to remain sharp by making their merchandise and offers extremely attractive to finish the back-to-school season strong.

Index highlights

  • Tax burden: The tax rate continues a steady hold at 11.7%t showing a marginal decrease from prior month.
  • Initial unemployment claims: Claims rose slightly this month to 315,000, but are still down 8.3% from the same period last year.
  • Real wages: Real hourly wages dropped slightly to $8.79 this month, but remain at a higher level compared with the past 12 months.
  • Real median new home price: New home prices continue to fluctuate, falling 3.5% from the prior month to $115,000.
Not much movement in the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index during July. In fact, the Index was effectively unchanged in during that month and was relativel...

Another boost in consumer confidence

It's the fourth straight monthly increase

The bullish attitude among the nation's consumers continues.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index rose more than 2 points in August -- to 92.4. While the Present Situation Index increased to 94.6 from 87.9, the Expectations Index edged lower -- to 90.9 from 91.9 in July.

“Consumer confidence increased for the fourth consecutive month as improving business conditions and robust job growth helped boost consumers’ spirits,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Looking ahead, consumers were marginally less optimistic about the short-term outlook compared to July, primarily due to concerns about their earnings. Overall, however, they remain quite positive about the short-term outlooks for the economy and labor market.”

The consumers' view

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions continued to improve through August. Those who believe business conditions are “good” edged up to 23.9% from 23.3 percent, while those who see business conditions are “bad” declined to 21.5% from 22.8%.

Consumers’ assessment of the job market was also more positive. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 18.2% from 15.6%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” declined marginally to 30.6% from 30.9%.

Consumers were slightly less optimistic in August about the short-term outlook. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months held steady at 20.4%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen fell to 10.2% from 12.1%.

However, they were somewhat mixed about the outlook for the labor market. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead fell to 17.0% from 18.7%, although those anticipating fewer jobs also declined to 15.8% from 16.6%.

Fewer consumers expect their incomes to grow -- 15.5% in August versus 17.7% in July, while those expecting a drop in their incomes rose inched higher to --11.9% from 11.1%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was August 14.

The bullish attitude among the nation's consumers continues. The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index rose more than 2 points in August ...

Consumer confidence improves for a third straight month

And, an analyst says the trend is likely to continue

After improving in June, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index increased again in July.

The index picked up 4.5 points during the month and now stands at 90.9. The Present Situation Index rose to 88.3 from 86.3, while the Expectations Index jumped 6.3 points -- to 92.7.

Consumer confidence increased for the third consecutive month and, according to Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, is now at its highest level since October 2007 (95.2).

“Strong job growth helped boost consumers’ assessment of current conditions,” she said, “while brighter short-term outlooks for the economy and jobs, and to a lesser extent personal income, drove the gain in expectations. Recent improvements in consumer confidence, in particular expectations, suggest the recent strengthening in growth is likely to continue into the second half of this year.”

A mixed showing

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in July. Those who said business conditions are “good” edged down to 22.7% from 23.4%, while those saying they are “bad” was virtually unchanged at 22.7%.

The appraisal of the job market was more favorable. Consumers who think jobs are “plentiful” increased to 15.9% from 14.6%, while those who believe jobs are “hard to get” was unchanged at 30.7%.

Growing optimism

Consumers’ expectations were brighter in July. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next 6 months increased to 20.2% from 18.4%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen held at 11.%.

Consumers were more positive about the outlook for the labor market. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased 2.8% -- to 19.1%, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 16.4% from 18.4%.

Slightly more consumers expect their incomes to grow -- 17.3% in July versus 16.7% in June, while those expecting a drop in their incomes slipped to 11.0% from 11.4%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 17.

After improving in June, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index increased again in July. The index picked up 4.5 points during the month and no...

Consumer spending dips in May

Deloitte says much of the blame goes to housing prices

Consumers pulled back a little during May, according to the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index.

The index, which tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending, and is made up of four components -- tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices -- decreased to 3.65 from 3.91 in April.

“Housing prices are the primary contributor to this month’s dip in the index,” said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s senior U.S. economist. “Real wages also declined for the second straight month, but static unemployment claims and tax rate slightly offset the other categories. The stalled housing market may weigh on consumers, although the overall picture remains positive.”

Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and Retail & Distribution sector leader, says the sluggish pace of the economy recovery challenges retailers to think differently about what drives the most revenue.”

“Retailers should continue to pursue non-traditional methods to reach their most valuable customers, who tend to be those who use digital devices most often,” she said, adding “Deloitte’s latest research, The New Digital Divide, indicates 22% of consumers spend more as a result of using digital, and that digitally-savvy shoppers who come to your store frequently are more likely to use digital devices and do so at an increasing rate.”

Paul also noted that, with the summer now underway, certain retailers can take full advantage of the seasonal increase in traffic by digitally influencing consumers.

For example, in home improvement stores, digital devices influence 42 cents of every dollar spent in the store, higher than the average of 36 cents of every dollar across all categories, according to Deloitte’s research.

Category breakdown

  • Tax burden: The tax rate is holding consistently at 11.8% -- the sixth straight month at this level.
  • Initial unemployment claims: Applications fell 0.2% from prior month to 320,250, and show a 6.5% drop from the same period last year.
  • Real wages: Real hourly wages dropped 0.1% to $8.82 this month, but are still higher over the past year.
  • Real median new home price: New home prices took a 2.3% dip -- to $117,000 in May following a strong increase the month before, which could be directly correlated to the increase in home improvement spending in the past year.
Consumers pulled back a little during May, according to the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index. The index, which tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of...

Gallup: U.S. consumers stuck in the mud

The company's U.S. Economic Confidence Index hasn't moved since mid-June

U.S. consumers, it appears, are in the summer doldrums.

Gallup says its U.S. Economic Confidence Index remained at -16 last week – the third straight week at that level. The index dropped to -13 at the start of June, them dipped to -16 in the middle of the month, and has not moved since.

Dimming outlook

Currently, one in five consumers (20%) say the economy is excellent or good, while 33% say it's poor -- resulting in a current conditions index of -13. As for the economy's future, 38% say it's getting better, while 56% say things are getting worse, for an economic outlook score of -18 -- the same as the previous week's score.

The recent slight dip in the overall index is attributable to losses in the outlook component since early June, while consumer attitudes about current economic conditions have held steady. This punctuates the pattern seen throughout 2014, with consumers' perceptions of the current state of the economy inching higher -- now up five points from -18 at the start of January -- while their outlook for the economy has gone in the other direction -- falling 10 points from -8.

Steady, but gloomy

Consumers' overall confidence in the economy has been relatively steady all year, and that has continued over the last three weeks, with confidence consistently at -16. This stability, however, masks the good news that perceptions of current conditions have improved, and are now approaching their highest level in five years. However, pessimism about the economy's direction is mounting, and is keeping the overall index from climbing any higher.

Even last week's promising jobs report and stock market highs couldn't lift consumers' confidence, suggesting stability may be in the forecast for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, gas prices, which now top $4 in some states, could have prevented any potential gains in confidence.

The index

The Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: Consumers' views on the current economic situation and their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or worse.

The potential high is 100, if all were to say the economy is "excellent" or "good" and that it is getting better; the potential low is -100, if all were to say the economy is "poor" and getting worse.

Since January 2008, when Gallup began tracking economic confidence daily, the weekly averages have ranged from -65 in October 2008 to -3 in May and June 2013.

U.S. consumers, it appears, are in the summer doldrums. Gallup says its U.S. Economic Confidence Index remained at -16 last week – the third straight week...

Consumer confidence at a 6-year high

Business conditions are a bright spot

Consumers are more confident about the economy than they've been in a long time.

According to The Conference Board, its Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in May, improved again this month and now stands at 85.2 -- up 3 points from the previous month.

The Present Situation Index increased to 85.1 from 80.3, while the Expectations Index rose to 85.2 from 83.5 in May.

“Consumer confidence continues to advance and the index is now at its highest level since January 2008 (87.3),” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “June’s increase was driven primarily by improving current conditions, particularly consumers’ assessment of business conditions. Expectations regarding the short-term outlook for the economy and jobs were moderately more favorable, while income expectations were a bit mixed. Still, the momentum going forward remains quite positive.”

How they see it

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved in June. Those saying business conditions are “good” increased to 23.0% from 21.1%, while those saying they are “bad” decreased to 22.8% from 24.6%.

Consumers’ assessment of the job market was also more favorable. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” edged up to 14.7% from 14.2%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined to 31.8% from 32.2%.

Consumers’ expectations were generally more positive in June. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.8% from 17.7%. However, those expecting business conditions to worsen increased to 11.4% from 10.7%.

Consumers were more positive about the outlook for the labor market. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead rose to 16.3% from 15.2%, while those anticipating fewer jobs edged down to 18.7% from 18.9%.

Fewer consumers expect their incomes to grow, 15.9% versus 18.0%, but those expecting a drop in their incomes also declined -- to 12.1% from 14.5%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was June 13.

Consumers are more confident about the economy than they've been in a long time. According to the Conference Board, its Consumer Confidence Index, which h...

Consumer confidence rebounds in May

There's growing optimism about rising incomes

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index rebounded from its April decline.

After dipping to 81.7 last month, the Index now stands at 83.0. Both the Present Situation Index and the Expectations Index posted increases.

“Consumer confidence improved slightly in May, as consumers assessed current conditions, in particular the labor market, more favorably,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Expectations regarding the short-term outlook for the economy, jobs, and personal finances were also more upbeat. In fact, the percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to grow over the next six months is the highest since December 2007 (20.2%). Thus, despite last month’s decline, consumers’ confidence appears to be growing.”

The situation now

Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved in May. Those who said business conditions are “good” dropped to 21.1% from 22.2%, while those who think they are “bad” declined to 24.1% from 24.8%.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was more favorable. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” rose to 14.1% from 13.0%, while those who believe jobs are “hard to get” dipped to 32.3% from 32.8%.

Looking ahead

Consumers’ expectations increased slightly in May.

The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months edged up to 17.5% from 17.2%, while those looking for business conditions to worsen slipped to 10.2% from 10.5%.

Consumers were more positive about the outlook for the labor market.

Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 15.4% from 14.7%, while those anticipating fewer jobs edged up to 18.3% from 18.0%.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to grow increased to 18.3% from 16.8%, but those expecting a drop in their incomes also increased -- to 14.5% from 12.9%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 14.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index rebounded from its April decline. After dipping to 81.7 last month, the Index now stands at 83.0. Both th...

Consumer confidence takes a step back

The view of current business and labor market conditions dimmed a bit

Consumers weren't quite as upbeat about the U.S. economy this month as they were in March.

The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index, which increased last month, slipped slightly in April from 83.9 to 82.3. The Present Situation Index dropped 4.2 -- to 78.3, while the Expectations Index was virtually unchanged at 84.9.

“Consumer confidence declined slightly in April, as consumers assessed current business and labor market conditions less favorably than in March,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “However, their expectations regarding the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market held steady.

But, she adds, while sentiment regarding current conditions may have slipped a bit, “consumers do not foresee the economy, or the labor market, losing the momentum that has been building up over the past several months.”

Business conditions and jobs

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions pulled back moderately in April. Those who said business conditions are “good” edged down to 21.8% from 22.6%, while those think conditions are “bad” rose to 24.4% from 23.5%.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also slightly more negative. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” declined to 12.9% from 13.8%, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” rose 1.1% to 32.5%.

Looking ahead

Consumers’ expectations held steady in April. The percentage of consumers who look for business conditions to improve over the next six months was unchanged at 17.4%, while those anticipating them to worsen inched up 0.2% to 10.3%.

People were slightly more optimistic about the outlook for the labor market. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 15.0% from 14.1%, while those expecting fewer jobs edged up to 17.9% from 17.5%.

The proportion of consumers who think their incomes will grow rose 1.8% -- to 17.1%, while those expecting a drop in their incomes also increased -- to 12.9% from 11.5%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was April 17.

Consumers weren't quite as upbeat about the U.S. economy this month as they were in March. The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index, which ...

A consumer confidence rebound

There's a sense of optimism about what lies ahead

While consumers don't much like what they are seeing now, they are optimistic about the future.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased in February, rose 4 points in March -- to 82.3. This occurred even as the Present Situation Index dipped a fraction to 80.4 from 81.0, while the Expectations Index shot up 7 points to 83.5.

The improvement came as expectations for the short-term outlook bounced back from February’s decline. “While consumers were moderately more upbeat about future job prospects and the overall economy, they were less optimistic about income growth,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The Present Situation index, which had been on an upward trend for the past four months, was relatively unchanged in March. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue improving and believe it may even pick up a little steam in the months ahead.”

A closer look at consumer attitudes

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was little-changed in March.

  • Those saying business conditions are “good” increased to 22.9%t from 21.2%; however, those who think business conditions are “bad” also rose, to 23.2% from 22.0%. Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market also was relatively unchanged.
  • Those who think jobs are “plentiful” decreased 0.3% -- to 13.1%, while those who believe jobs are “hard to get” increased slightly to 33.0% from 32.4%.

Consumers’ expectations, which fell last month, rebounded in March.

  • The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.1% from 17.3%, while those worsening conditions fell 3.4% -- to 10.2 percent%.  

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also moderately more optimistic.  

  • Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead edged up to 13.9% from 13.7%, while those expecting fewer jobs fell to 18.0% from 20.9%.
  • The proportion expecting their incomes to grow declined to 14.9% 15.8%, but those anticipating a decline in their incomes also dropped by 1.3% to 12.1%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was March 14.

While consumers don't much like what they are seeing now, they are optimistic about the future. The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index...

Consumers pull back on spending in January

However, they may loosen up when warmer weather finally arrives

How cold was it in January? Apparently so cold a lot of consumers didn't want to take their hands out of their pockets.

That's one possible explanation for the decline in the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index last month. Even with the drop of 0.3 -- to 4.0 -- the index, which tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending, remained in positive territory.

"All components of the index this month declined slightly, though such volatility is consistent with a recovering economy," said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte's senior U.S. economist. "The index still indicates a positive environment for consumers, which may help sustain current spending levels."

"Despite a colder than usual winter, retailers may benefit from 'spring fever' once the chilly temperatures subside," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and Retail & Distribution sector leader. "Consumers may feel like they're coming out of hibernation after many frigid, stormy weeks and quickly warm up to the idea of shopping for spring apparel, gardening supplies or outdoor gear. Retailers should be ready to capitalize on that excitement, starting with mobile and online awareness efforts now, so that their brands are top of mind when consumers venture out."

Index highlights

Here is how the four major components of the Deloitte Consumer Spending Index performed last month:

  • Tax burden: The tax rate remains at approximately 11.8%, with only a 0.3% increase from the month prior.
  • Initial unemployment claims: The four-week moving average of initial unemployment claims rose to 359,000, a rise of nearly 11% from the previous month.
  • Real wages: Real hourly wages ticked down 0.2% to $8.81 in December, but remain among the highest levels seen over the past year.
  • Real new home prices: New home prices dipped 0.6% to $115,000 from $116,000 in the previous month.
How cold was it in January? Apparently so cold a lot of consumers didn't want to take their hands out of their pockets. That's one possible explanation fo...

A winter chill for consumer confidence

The outlook is “iffy,” according to consumers

A drop in consumer expectations pushed the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index lower in February.

After rising to 79.4 In January, the Index dropped to 78.1, due according to Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, “concern over the short-term outlook for business conditions, jobs, and earnings.”

Franco says while expectations have fluctuated over recent months, current conditions have continued to trend upward and the Present Situation Index is now at its highest level in almost six years. “This,” she adds, “suggests that consumers believe the economy has improved, but they do not foresee it gaining considerable momentum in the months ahead.”

How things stand

Consumers had a positive view current conditions for the fourth consecutive month in February. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 21.5% from 20.8%, while those saying business conditions are “bad” declined to 22.6% from 23.4%.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market also improved. Those who see jobs as “plentiful” rose to 13.9% from 12.5%, while those who believe jobs are “hard to get” dipped to 32.5% from 32.7%.

Looking ahead

Consumers’ expectations, which had been improving over the past two months, retreated in February. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 16.3% from 17.0%, while those anticipating business conditions to worsen increased to 13.3% from 12.2%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more pessimistic. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 13.3% from 15.1%, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 20.6% from 19.0%.

The proportion of consumers who see their incomes increasing fell from 16.6% to 15.4%, while those anticipating a drop in their incomes also fell -- from 13.9% to 13.1%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was February 13.

A drop in consumer expectations pushed the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index lower in February. After rising to 79.4 In January, the Index drop...

Consumers feeling their oats

The increase in the January confidence index is the second in a row

Ordinarily a fickle bunch, consumers have been happy with the economy for two straight months.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index was up more than three points in January -- to 80.7. In addition, the Present Situation Index shot to 79.1 from 75.3, and the Expectations Index rose to 81.8 from 79.0 last month.

Confidence back on track

“Consumers’ assessment of the present situation continues to improve, with both business conditions and the job market rated more favorably,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Looking ahead six months, consumers expect the economy and their earnings to improve, but were somewhat mixed regarding the outlook for jobs. All in all, confidence appears to be back on track and rising expectations suggest the economy may pick up some momentum in the months ahead.”

Consumers’ assessment of overall present-day conditions continues to improve. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 21.5% from 20.2%, while those who think conditions are “bad” edged down to 22.8%t from 23.2%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was also more positive. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” ticked up to 12.7% from 11.9%%, while those who believe jobs are “hard to get” decreased slightly to 32.6% from 32.9%.

Rising expectations

Consumers’ expectations, which had improved sharply in December, were up again in January. Those who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months was unchanged at 17.4%, while those anticipating business conditions to worsen decreased to 12.1% from 13.9%.

The outlook for the labor market was mixed. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 15.4% from 17.1%. However, those anticipating fewer jobs decreased to 18.3% from 19.4%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase rose to 15.8% from 13.9%t, while see a decrease in their incomes declined to 13.6% from 14.3%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was January 16.

Ordinarily a fickle bunch, consumers have been happy with the economy for two straight months. The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index...

Consumers like what they see

Confidence in the economy rebounded in December from November's decline

What a difference a month makes.

After posting a 2-point decline in November -- to 72.0, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index shot up more than 6 points in December and now stands at 78.1. The Present Situation Index rose to 76.2 from 73.5, while the Expectations Index jumped to 79.4 from 71.1 last month.

The rebound in consumer confidence in December put the index close to pre-government shutdown levels (September 2013, 80.2). “Sentiment regarding current conditions increased to a 5 ½ year high (April 2008, 81.9), with consumers attributing the improvement to more favorable economic and labor market conditions,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Looking ahead, consumers expressed a greater degree of confidence in future economic and job prospects, but were moderately more pessimistic about their earning prospects. Despite the many challenges throughout 2013, consumers are in better spirits today than when the year began.”

How they see it

Consumers’ appraisal of overall current conditions improved. Those claiming business conditions are “good” edged down to 19.6% from 20.4%; however, those who think business conditions are “bad” decreased to 22.6% from 24.6%t. Appraisal of the job market was also more upbeat. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” ticked up to 12.2% from 12.0%, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” dipped 1.6% -- to 32.5%.

Consumers’ expectations, which had decreased in November, improved in December. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 17.2% from 16.7%, and those expecting business conditions to worsen fell to 14.0% from 16.1%.

The outlook for the labor market was considerably more optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead jumped 4% -- to 17.1%, while those anticipating fewer jobs decreased to 19.0% from 21.4%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase, on the other hand, was down 1.4% to 13.9%; while those expecting a their incomes to fall declined to 14.0% from 15.5%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was December 17.

What a difference a month makes. After posting a 2-point decline in November -- to 72.0, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index shot up more tha...

Another drop in consumer confidence

It's the second straight decline

Heading into the holiday -- which is to say shopping -- season, consumers have a dimmer view of the economy.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index declined in November following a sharp 9-point decrease the month before. The Index now stands at 70.4 -- a 2-point drop from October. The Present Situation Index edged down to 72.0 from 72.6, while the Expectations Index slipped to 69.3 from 72.2 last month.

“Sentiment regarding current conditions was mixed, with consumers saying the job market had strengthened, while economic conditions had slowed,” said Lynn Franco, the Board's director of economic indicators. “However, these sentiments did not carry over into the short-term outlook. When looking ahead six months, consumers expressed greater concern about future job and earning prospects, but remain neutral about economic conditions. All in all, with such uncertainty prevailing, this could be a challenging holiday season for retailers.”

Ebb and flow

Consumers’ assessment of overall current conditions decreased slightly. Those claiming business conditions are “good” edged up to 19.9% from 19.5%, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased to 25.2% from 23.0%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was little changed. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” ticked up 0.2% -- to 11.8%, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 34.0% from 34.9%.

Consumers’ expectations, which had decreased sharply in October, declined further in November. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased slightly to 16.6% from 16.0%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen fell to 16.8% from 17.5%.

Jobs concerns

However, consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more pessimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead fell to 12.7% from 16.0%, but those anticipating fewer jobs also decreased 0.9% -- to 21.7%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined to 14.9% from 15.7%. Those expecting their incomes to drop rose slightly to 15.9% from 15.5%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was November 15.

Heading into the holiday -- which is to say shopping -- season, consumers have a dimmer view of the economy. The Conference Board reports its Consumer Con...

Shutdown and debt worries send consumer confidence tumbling

Volatility is expected during the near term

The government shutdown earlier this month, along with jitters about the debt ceiling, took a toll on the way consumers viewed the economy.

The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index fell sharply in October on the heels of September's moderate decline. The Index now stands at 71.2 -- down 9 points from where it stood last month. The Present Situation Index decreased to 70.7 from 73.5, while the Expectations Index fell to 71.5 from 84.7 last month.

“Consumer confidence deteriorated considerably as the federal government shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis took a particularly large toll on consumers’ expectations,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Similar declines in confidence were experienced during the payroll tax hike earlier this year, the fiscal cliff discussions in late 2012, and the government shutdown in 1995/1996. However, given the temporary nature of the current resolution, confidence is likely to remain volatile for the next several months.”

How they see it

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined moderately. Those who think business conditions are “good” decreased to 19.0% from 20.7%, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” edged down to 23.0% from 23.9%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was less favorable than last month. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” was virtually unchanged at 11.3%, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” jumped to 35.8% from 33.6%.

Consumers’ expectations, which had softened in September, plunged in October. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months fell to 16.0% from 20.6%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen increased to 17.5% from 10.3%.

There was also more pessimism about the outlook for the labor market. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 15.3% from 16.1%, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 22.7% from 19.1%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase rose to 15.8% from 15.1%. However, those expecting a decrease rose to 15.4% from 13.9%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was October 17.

The government shutdown earlier this month, along with jitters about the debt ceiling, took a toll on the way consumers viewed the economy. The Conference...

Whoops! Consumer confidence slips a bit

Concerns about jobs and earnings are to blame

Consumers appear to have become a bit wobbly about the economy in September.

According to The Conference Board, its Consumer Confidence Index, slipped this month after showing some strength in August. It now stands at 79.7 – a drop of just over two points from its reading of 81.8 the previous month. The Present Situation Index grew to 73.2 from 70.9, while the Expectations Index fell to 84.1 from 89.0 last month.

“Consumer Confidence decreased in September as concerns about the short-term outlook for both jobs and earnings resurfaced, while expectations for future business conditions were little changed,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, however, was more positive. While overall economic conditions appear to have moderately improved, consumers are uncertain that the momentum can be sustained in the months ahead.”

How they see it

Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions improved moderately. Those who say business conditions are “good” increased to 19.5% from 18.7%, while those who think conditions are “bad” fell to 23.9% from 24.5$.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market also was more favorable. Those who believe jobs are “plentiful” inched up to 11.5% from 11.3%, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” fell to a five-year low of 32.7% from 33.3%.

Consumers’ expectations, which had increased in August, declined in September. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months edged up to 20.9% from 20.6%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen was virtually unchanged at 11.0%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market, however, grew more pessimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead dropped to 16.9% from 17.5%, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 19.7% from 17.2%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined to 15.4% from 17.5%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 13.

Consumers appear to have become a bit wobbly about the economy in September. According to the Conference Board, its Consumer Confidence Index, slipped thi...

Consumers report a sharp rise in financial difficulties, gloomier outlook

Consumer Reports "trouble tracker" finds surge in financial problems among lower-income families

There's a lot of talk about a financial recovery but for many Americans, that's all it is -- talk. So says the Consumer Reports Index, an overall measure of Americans’ personal financial health, which found that Americans reported a sharp rise in financial difficulties and a weaker view of their overall financial health in the past 30 days.

“The economy is staggering along. This recovery remains the weakest since World War II. Uncertainty hangs over the lower-income consumers like a veil of smoke fed by the lackluster recovery in jobs, “said Ed Farrell, director of consumer insight at Consumer Reports.

The Consumer Reports Index’s trouble tracker climbed to 46.0 in August from 34.7 the prior month. This significant rise was driven by a surge in financial troubles among lower-income consumers (households earning $50,000 or less) and Americans with a high school education or less.

The trouble tracker measure addresses both the proportion of consumers that have faced difficulties as well as the number of hurdles they have encountered.  Affluent and college-educated consumers showed little change in the amount of financial trouble they faced in the past 30 days.

It flows downhill

Lower-income households continue to be disproportionately affected by the economy’s crawling recovery. Twenty-seven percent of them reported they were unable to afford medical bills or medications in the past 30 days—that’s 11 percentage points higher than the national average. Missed bill payments and lost or reduced healthcare coverage also remain among the most prevalently reported financial troubles overall.  

The Consumer Reports Index’s sentiment measure dropped into negative territory for the first time in five months, falling to 48.6 from 50.8 the prior month. After three straight months of decline, sentiment is at its lowest level since October 2012. The greatest decline in sentiment was also among lower-income households and those that have a high school education or less.

The level of stress that consumers felt was up from the prior month, 58.0 versus 53.7, respectively. The most stressed Americans: women (59.6), those in households earning under $50,000 (62.0), aged 35-64 (60.9), and those in the Northeast (61.5).

The Consumer Reports Index, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, is a monthly telephone and cell phone poll of a nationally representative probability sample of American adults.

There's a lot of talk about a financial recovery but for many Americans, that's all it is -- talk. So says the Consumer Reports Index, an overall measure o...

September 2008: A look back

Pivotal month five years ago sent the economy into a tailspin

The world changed five years ago, in September 2008. On September 15 investment banking giant Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, sending a shock wave through the financial world, freezing the credit markets and causing overnight massive layoffs that sent the unemployment rate surging to a 14-year high.

Many mark the start of the Great Recession with the Lehman collapse but the economy had been in recession since the previous December. If that weren't bad enough, gasoline prices surged to record highs in July. By early October real economic fear gripped the country and much of the world, resulting in a series of controversial government remedies, some of which continue today.

Taking stock

So, where are we today, five years after all of this started? A survey by Country Financial suggests many Americans do not feel their personal financial security or the economy overall are any better compared to five years ago.

Fifty-four percent say they feel less financially secure now than they did five years ago and another 19% feel the same. Just 27% feel more financially secure.

How's the U.S. economy doing? Nearly half in the survey said the economy is worse than it was five years ago and another 19% say it's about the same. Only 29% say it's better.

Economist's view

Economist Joel Naroff, of Narroff Economic Advisors, in Holland, Pa., is among the 29% who say the economy is better. At least, he says it is as good as could have been hoped.

“The two sectors that collapsed, housing and finance, are usually the leaders during a recovery and it took four years for housing to start to come around and finance is still in the process of healing,” Naroff said.

Added to the problems, he says, European and Asian economies have also been weak. It should be no surprise that economic growth is anemic, at best. Yet, he says, it seems to surprise a lot of people, which is part of the problem.

Perception

“It is that perception that is, in part, holding things back,” Naroff said. “Businesses are not convinced the economy will shift into high gear so they are holding back on hiring. That has kept the unemployment rate at unacceptably high levels. Worse, with so many people looking for work, firms have had no pressure to raise wages. Real earnings have stagnated and in a consumer-driven economy, it is hard to expand robustly if households don't have the financial ability to lead the way.”

And the outlook isn't promising for people hoping for a pay raise. Until the unemployment rate falls to a level where businesses have to bid for workers, thereby raising wages, the recovery will continue at a lackluster pace, he says.

When quizzed about the lasting effects from the Great Recession, consumers in the Country Financial survey cited “a hit to savings” as the biggest scar, even more so than the loss of home value. At the top of the list of lasting effects that still worry Americans are a reduced retirement nest egg – 22% – and depleted emergency savings – 21%. By comparison, just eight percent mention reduced home value.

Housing rebound

That could be because the housing market appears to be in the beginning stages of a recovery. In fact, in the last year the housing market and auto sales – two sectors devastated by the Great Recession – have becoming the strongest pillars in an otherwise weak U.S. economy.

“The housing and vehicle sectors have recovered, in part, because of low rates and growing confidence about the future,” Naroff said. “While people are not exuberant, they are no longer fearful of losing their jobs. Given that they have run their vehicles into the ground, this growing expectation about the future is leading to a pick-up in demand.”

As carmakers have racked up record sales month after month, the fleet of automobiles on U.S. highways has gotten newer and more fuel-efficient, and that has paid an unexpected dividend. Despite a recovering economy demand for gasoline has continued to decline, removing pressure on supplies and prices.

Investors driving housing market

“As for housing, the market has changed to where investors are becoming a key element of demand,” Naroff notes. “This created a bottom in prices and started the upturn. As prices rose, more people had the equity to both sell the homes they wanted to shed for years and also buy a different one.”

If this trend continues, he says the number of people “underwater” on their mortgage will dwindle sharply and that will lead to renewed health in the housing market.

In the meantime, the last five years have left very real economic scars on a wide swath of the U.S. population. In the Country Financial Survey, nearly half of those questioned said they don't expect any economic improvement in their lives in the next five years.

Forty-six percent expect to experience another recession in the next five years and another 32 percent aren't sure. Thirty-six percent say improvements in the job market will make them feel more financially secure.

"It's not surprising Americans have a cautious outlook on the next five years, given the ongoing impact of the recession," said Troy Frerichs, director of investments-wealth management at Country Financial. "The best way to approach financial uncertainty is to be prepared for anything.”

The world changed five years ago, in September 2008. On September 15 investment banking giant Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, sending a shock wave thr...

Consumer: Economy looks pretty good

Business, job and earning prospects help boost confidence

Maybe things aren't so bad after all.

That seems to be the attitude of consumers, who were a little more upbeat about the economy in August than they were in July.

After declining the previous month, The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased slightly in August and now stands at 81.5. The July reading was 81.0 in July. While the Present Situation Index fell more than three points (70.7 versus73.6), the Expectations Index increased to 88.7 from 86.0 last month.

The boost in confidence was largely the result of improving short-term expectations. “Consumers were moderately more upbeat about business, job and earning prospects,” said Economic Indicators Director Lynn Franco. “In fact, income expectations, which had declined sharply earlier this year with the payroll tax hike, have rebounded to their highest level in two and a half years.” However, assessment of current business and labor market conditions was somewhat less favorable than last month.

How they see it now

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was down a bit. Those who think business conditions are “good” decreased to 18.4% from 20.8%, while those who say business conditions are “bad” was virtually unchanged at 24.8%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was mixed. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 11.4% from 12.3%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” declined to 33.0% from 35.2%.

Looking ahead

Consumers’ expectations, which had dipped in July, increased in August. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months edged up to 20.1% from 19.9%. Those who believe things will get worse slipped to 11.1% from 11.3%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market remained upbeat. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 17.6% from 16.7%, while those who see fewer jobs dropped to 17.3% from 17.7%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase rose to 17.4% from 15.7%. Those looking for a decrease was down slightly to 13.5% from 13.7%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was August 15.

Maybe things aren't so bad after all. That seems to be the attitude of consumers, who were a little more upbeat about the economy in August than they were...

A dip in consumer confidence in July

Economic and job expectations showed a little weakness

Questions in consumers' minds about the outlook for jobs helped undercut their confidence in the economy in July.

The Conference Board reports that after improving in June, its Confidence Consumer Index pulled back slightly and now stands at 80.3 -- down 1.8 from its June reading. While the Present Situation Index increased to 73.6 from 68.7, the Expectations Index fell to 84.7 from 91.1 last month.

Job concerns

“Consumer Confidence fell slightly in July, precipitated by a weakening in consumers’ economic and job expectations,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “However, confidence remains well above the levels of a year ago.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions continues to gain ground, she added, “and expectations remain in expansionary territory despite the July retreat. Overall, indications are that the economy is strengthening and may even gain some momentum in the months ahead.”

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions continues to improve. Those who said business conditions are “good” increased to 20.9% from 19.4%, while those who think they are “bad” decreased to 24.5% from 24.9%. Consumers’ assessment of the job market was also more positive. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” increased to 12.2% from 11.3%, while those who see jobs as “hard to get” declined to 35.5% from 37.1%.

Short-term weakness

Consumers’ expectations regarding the short-term outlook weakened in July. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 19.1% from 21.4%. However, those looking for business conditions to worsen remained virtually unchanged at 11.2%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was less upbeat. Those forecasting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 16.5% from 19.7%, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 18.1% from 16.1%. The proportion of consumers who think their their incomes will increase dipped slightly to 15.3% from 15.9%; however those expecting a decrease fell to 13.8% from 14.2%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 18.

Questions in consumers' minds about the outlook for jobs helped undercut their confidence in the economy in July. The Conference Board reports that after ...

Are happy days here again?

Consumer Reports says Americans are shaking off their financial woes

According to at least one measure, people are feeling better about their financial condition than they have in several years.

The Consumer Reports (CR) Index trouble tracker is down sharply -- to 34.0 from 41.7 a month earlier -- the lowest level since April 2009. The trouble tracker measure focuses on both the proportion of consumers that have faced difficulties as well as the number of negative events they have encountered.

Negative events include: the inability to pay medical bills or afford medication; missed mortgage payment; home foreclosure; interest-rate increase, penalty fees, reduced lines of credit or other changes in credit-card terms; job loss; reduced health-care coverage; and, the denial of personal loans.

The trouble tracker has dropped more than 50 percent from its high-water mark in September 2009, when it hit 68.7. The greatest drop in financial difficulties over the past 30 days was among those in households earning less than $50,000, followed by the most affluent in homes -- those earning $100,000 or more. Amidst this general drop in financial difficulties, middle-income Americans experienced a slight rise in financial troubles.

“The data offer a glimpse that consumers may be starting to see and feel the progress of the economic recovery,” said Ed Farrell, director of consumer insight at the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

Other measures

  • The index’s sentiment measure declined 1.9 points to 52.6 from its high point of 54.5 last month, but overall remains in positive territory. The drop was attributable to a drop in two segments: consumers in households earning less than $50,000 (-2.8), and those with a high school education or less (-4.7).
  • The CR index’s employment measure showed that job gains outpaced job losses for the third straight month. The employment measure was little changed this month, rising slightly to 50.6 from 50.3 a month earlier. The uptick was attributed to an increase in the proportion of people starting a new job in the past 30 days, and job gains outpacing job losses by a widening margin. The only group that lost more jobs than it gained was among those with a high school education or less. “Despite the improvements, consumers are still frigid about robust spending,” Farrell said. “We are watching closely waiting to see how long it will take them to thaw out from the mindset created by the conditions of the past five years.”
  • The past 30-day retail measure halted four straight months of decline, ticking upward to 9.2 from 8.7 a month earlier. Among the retail categories the index tracks, the gain was driven primarily by a large seasonal rise in the major lawn and garden equipment category, and a small uptick in major appliances. The Index also shows that consumers are still not comfortable with robust spending. Planned spending for the next 30 days, reflecting potential June activity, is at 6.0, its lowest level since first measured in April 2009.
  • The level of stress that consumers felt was up slightly to 55.2 from 53.8 last month. The most stressed Americans: women (55.8), those in households earning under $50,000 (57.1), aged 18-34 (56.6), and those in the North East (57.6).
According to at least one measure, people are feeling better about their financial condition than they have in several years. The Consumer Reports (CR) In...

Consumer confidence posts substantial gain in May

Optimism as at the best level in five years

Things are looking up this month as far as U.S. consumers are concerned

The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index was up for the second time in as many months during May, posting a gain of 7.2 from April -- to 76.2. The May reading surprised economists surveyed by Briefing.com, who were expecting a reading of 72.5.

The Present Situation Index increased to 66.7 from 61.0, while the Expectations Index rose to 82.4 from 74.3 last month.

“Consumer Confidence posted another gain this month and is now at a five-year high (Feb. 2008, Index 76.4),” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor-market conditions was more positive and they were considerably more upbeat about future economic and job prospects. Back-to-back monthly gains suggest that consumer confidence is on the mend and may be regaining the traction it lost due to the fiscal cliff, payroll-tax hike, and sequester.”

An upbeat assessment

Consumers saying business conditions currently are “good” increased to 18.8% from 17.5%, while those stating business conditions are “bad” decreased to 26.0% from 27.6%. Their assessment of the labor market was also more positive. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” increased to 10.8% from 9.7%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” edged down to 36.1% from 36.9%.

Consumers were considerably more optimistic about the short-term outlook. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 19.2% from 17.2%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen decreased to 12.1% from 14.8%.

The outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat. Consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead improved to 16.8% from 14.3%, while those expecting fewer jobs decreased to 19.7% from 21.8%. The proportion of people expecting their incomes to increase dipped slightly to 16.6% from 16.8%, while those expecting a decrease edged down to 15.3% from 15.9%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 15.

Things are looking up this month as far as U.S. consumers are concerned The Conference Board says it's Consumer Confidence Index was up for the second tim...

A consumer confidence bounceback in April

Expectations about the short-term economic outlook seen as a major factor

After posting a decline in March, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index posted a gain of better than six points this month to stand at 68.1.  That outstripped the expectations of economists polled by Briefing.com, who were looking for a reading of  60.3

In addition, the Present Situation Index rose to 60.4 from 59.2 and the Expectations Index improved to 73.3 from 63.7 last month.

“Consumer Confidence improved in April, as consumers’ expectations about the short-term economic outlook and their income prospects improved,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “However, consumers’ confidence has been challenged several times over the past few months by such events as the fiscal cliff, the payroll tax hike and the sequester. Thus, while expectations appear to have bounced back, it is too soon to tell if confidence is actually on the mend.”

Consumers see improvement

The assessment of current conditions improved moderately in April. Consumers saying business conditions are “good” increased to 17.2 percent from 16.4 percent, while those stating business conditions are “bad” fell to 28.1 percent from 29.1 percent.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was mixed. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” edged up to 9.8 percent from 9.5 percent. However those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 37.1 percent from 35.4 percent.

The shorter view

Consumers were considerably more upbeat about the short-term outlook. The percentage who think business conditions will improve over the next six months increased to 16.9 percent from 15.0 percent, while those anticipating business conditions to worsen decreased to 15.1 percent from 17.7 percent.

The outlook for the labor market was also more positive. Consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead improved to 14.2 percent from 13.0 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs decreased to 22.4 percent from 26.0 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to rise climbed to 16.8 percent from 14.6 percent, while those expecting a decrease dipped to 16.0 percent from 17.7 percent.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was April 18.

After posting a decline in March, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index posted a gain of better than six points this month to stand at 68.1. In...

Consumer confidence plunges in March

Pessimism appears to be creeping back in

Uncertainty -- some of it generated by the sequester -- has put consumers in something of a funk.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, which had improved in February, fell to 59.7 in March from 68.0. Factors include a drop in the Present Situation Index to 57.9 from 61.4 and a decline in the Expectations Index to 60.9 from 72.4 last month.

“Consumer Confidence fell sharply in March, following February’s uptick,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “This month’s retreat was driven primarily by a sharp decline in expectations, although consumers were also more pessimistic in their assessment of current conditions. The loss of confidence, particularly expectations, mirrors the losses experienced this past December and January. The recent sequester has created uncertainty regarding the economic outlook and as a result, consumers are less confident.”

Survey highlights

  • Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions declined in March. Those saying business conditions are “good” decreased to 16.0% from 17.6%, while those stating business conditions are “bad” increased to 29.3% from 28.2%.
  • Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was mixed. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 9.4% from 10.1%, but those claiming jobs are “hard to get” edged down to 36.2% from 36.9%.
  • Consumers are once again pessimistic about the short-term outlook. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 14.4% from 18.0%, while those anticipating business conditions to worsen increased to 18.3% from 16.6%.
  • Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less favorable. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 12.3% from 16.1%, while those expecting fewer jobs increased to 26.6% from 22.1%.
  • The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell to 13.7% from 15.8%, while those expecting a decrease edged down to 18.0% from 19.3%.
  • The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was March 14.
Uncertainty -- some of it generated by the sequester -- has put consumers in something of a funk. The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Ind...

A bounce-back for consumer confidence

The jitters have eased -- for now, anyway

After posting a decline last month, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index rebounded in February and now stands at 69.6 -- up from 1.2 from in January. The Present Situation Index increased to 63.3 from 56.2. The Expectations Index improved to 73.8 from 59.9 last month.

“Consumer Confidence rebounded in February as the shock effect caused by the fiscal cliff uncertainty and payroll tax cuts appears to have abated.” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions is more positive than last month. Looking ahead, consumers are cautiously optimistic about the outlook for business and labor market conditions. Income expectations, which had turned rather negative last month, have improved modestly.”

Present day improvement

Consumers’ assessment of present day conditions improved in February. Those claiming business conditions are “good” rose to 18.1 percent from 16.1 percent, while those stating business conditions are “bad” decreased to 27.8 percent from 28.4 percent.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was mixed. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 10.5 percent from 8.5 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” edged up to 37.0 percent from 36.6 percent.

There was more optimism about the short-term outlook this month. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.9 percent from 15.6 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen declined to 16.5 percent from 20.4 percent.

Jobs & income

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more positive. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead improved to 16.7 percent from 14.4 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs decreased to 21.5 percent from 26.7 percent.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase rose to 15.7 percent from 13.5 percent, while those anticipating a decrease fell to 19.6 percent from 23.3 percent.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was February 14.

After posting a decline last month, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index rebounded in February and now stands at 69.6 -- up from 1.2 from in Ja...

Consumer Confidence Increases Again

The Conference Board's index is at its highest level this year

With less than a week to go before the elections, people seem to be feeling better about the economy.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which rose in September, improved again in October. The Index now stands at 72.2 (1985=100) -- compared with 68.4 in September. The Present Situation Index increased to 56.2 from 48.7. The Expectations Index rose to 82.9 from 81.5 last month.

"The Consumer Confidence Index increased again in October and is now at its highest level this year,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers were considerably more positive in their assessment of current conditions -- with improvements in the job market as the major driver. Consumers were modestly more upbeat about their financial situation and the short-term economic outlook, and appear to be in better spirits approaching the holiday season."

Current conditions, labor market show improvement

Consumers' assessment of current conditions improved in October. Those claiming business conditions are "good" rose to 16.5 percent from 15.3 percent, while those saying business conditions are "bad" edged down to 33.1 percent from 33.8 percent.

Consumers' appraisal of the labor market was also more positive. Those stating jobs are "plentiful" increased to 10.3 percent from 8.1 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" declined to 39.4 percent from 40.7 percent.

Eye on the future

Consumers were generally more optimistic about the short-term outlook in October. Those anticipating an improvement in business conditions over the next six months increased to 21.4 percent from 17.9 percent. However, those expecting business conditions to worsen edged up to 15.1 percent from 14.5 percent.

Consumers' outlook for the labor market was also mixed. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 19.2 percent from 18.1 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs increased to 20.3 percent from 18.7 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes edged up to 16.7 percent from 15.9 percent.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey , based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was October 18.

With less than a week to go before the elections, people seem to be feeling better about the economy. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, whic...

Consumer Confidence Index Down in August

Now at lowest level since November 2011

After showing improvement in July, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index has declined in August. The Index now stands at 60.6 versus the reading of 65.4 in July.

he Expectations Index decreased to 70.5 from 78.4. The Present Situation Index, however, was virtually unchanged, at 45.8 versus 45.9 a month ago.

"The Consumer Confidence Index is now at its lowest level since late last year (Nov. 2011, 55.2),” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “A more pessimistic outlook was the primary reason for this month's decline in confidence. Consumers were more apprehensive about business and employment prospects, but more optimistic about their financial prospects despite rising inflation expectations. Consumers' assessment of current conditions was virtually unchanged, suggesting no significant pickup or deterioration in the pace of growth."

Mixed indicators

Consumers' assessment of current conditions was little changed in August. Those claiming business conditions are "good" improved to 15.2 percent from 13.7 percent, while those saying business conditions are "bad" was unchanged at 34.4 percent. Consumers' appraisal of the labor market varied. Those stating jobs are "plentiful" declined to 7.0 percent from 7.8 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" edged down to 40.7 percent from 41.0 percent.

Consumers' optimism about the short-term outlook deteriorated in August. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months declined to 16.5 percent from 19.0 percent, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen increased to 17.7 percent from 15.1 percent.

Consumers' outlook for the labor market was also less favorable. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 15.4 percent from 17.6 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs rose to 23.4 percent from 20.6 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes, however, improved to 15.7 percent from 14.2 percent.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was August 16.

After showing improvement in July, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index has declined in August. The Index now stands at 60.6 versus the reading...

Consumers Becoming More Confident

A key measure of consumer sentiment is higher after four straight declines

Have we turned the corner or is it a blip? 

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in June, improved slightly this month. in July. It now stands at 65.9 (1985=100), up 3.2 from its reading in June. 

The Expectations Index improved to 79.1 from 73.4, although the Present Situation Index, decreased slightly -- to 46.2 from 46.6 a month ago. 

Still on the low side 

"Despite this month's improvement in confidence, the overall Index remains at historically low levels,” said Says Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers' attitude regarding current conditions was little changed in July, but their short-term expectations, which had declined last month, bounced back.” 

She notes that while consumers expressed greater optimism about short-term business and employment prospects, they have grown more pessimistic about their earnings. “Given the current economic environment -- in particular the weak labor market,” she says, “consumer confidence is not likely to gain any significant momentum in the coming months." 

Here and now 

Consumers' appraisal of current conditions eased in July. Those claiming business conditions are "good" declined to 13.8 percent from 14.2 percent, while those saying business conditions are "bad" decreased to 34.2 percent from 35.9 percent. 

Consumers' assessment of the labor market was also mixed. Those stating jobs are “hard to get" declined to 40.8 percent from 41.2 percent, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 7.8 percent from 8.3 percent. 

Looking ahead 

On the other hand, consumers were generally more optimistic about the short-term outlook in July.  The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose to 18.9 percent from 16.0 percent, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen decreased to 14.6 percent from 15.8 percent. 

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat in July. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 17.6 percent from 14.8 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs edged down to 20.3 percent from 20.8 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes, however, declined to 14.2 percent from 15.3 percent. 

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 19.

Have we turned the corner or is it a blip? The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in June, improved slightly this month. in ...

Consumer Confidence Index Declines Again

Optimism elusive as consumers take stock of the economy

The mood of the U.S. consumer continued to darken during June. 

The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index®, which had declined in May, fell further in June and now stands at 62.0 (1985=100) -- down from 64.4 in May.

At the same time, the Expectations Index declined to 72.3 from 77.3. The Present Situation Index, however, increased to 46.6 from 44.9 last month. 

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was June 14. 

The continuing slide 

"Consumer Confidence declined in June, the fourth consecutive moderate decline, said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers were somewhat more positive about current conditions, but slightly more pessimistic about the short-term outlook. 

“Income expectations, which had improved last month, declined in June,” she added. “If this trend continues, spending may be restrained in the short-term. The improvement in the Present Situation Index, coupled with a moderate softening in consumer expectations, suggests there will be little change in the pace of economic activity in the near-term." 

A mixed outlook 

Consumers' assessment of current conditions improved slightly in June. Those claiming business conditions are "good" increased to 14.9 percent from 13.6 percent, however, those saying business conditions are "bad" increased to 35.1 percent from 34.7 percent. 

Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was mixed. Those stating jobs are "hard to get" increased to 41.5 percent from 40.9 percent, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" increased to 7.8 percent from 7.5 percent. 

Consumers have grown less upbeat about the short-term outlook. The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions to improve over the next six months declined to 15.5 percent from 16.6 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen increased to 16.2 percent from 12.9 percent. 

Consumers' outlook for the labor market was mixed. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead declined to 14.1 percent from 15.4 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs also declined to 20.6 percent from 21.5 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 14.8 percent from 15.7 percent.

Consumers' view of the economy remains downbeat...

Consumer Sentiment Drops After Three Months of Improvement

Americans cut spending sharply after holidays as financial difficulties mount

It was just a week or so ago that the Consumer Confidence Index issued by the Conference Board was rising in lockstep with gasoline prices, causing more than a little head-scratching.

We don't know about the Conference Board but the Consumer Reports Index, a measure of overall consumer financial health, showed that the confidence of the American consumer is waning, with signs of mounting financial difficulty emerging.

After three months of improvement, the Consumer Reports Sentiment Index fell this month to 46.1, from 49.6 last month. Further challenging consumer confidence, The Trouble Tracker Index increased slightly this month to 52.2 from 49.1 in February, and is now at its highest level since August 2011.

The impact of financial troubles is very different across income levels. The Trouble Tracker Index for those living in households earning less than $50,000, about half of all American adults, stands at 73.9, nearly four times as great as those in households earning $100,000 or more (18.9).

Retail lagging

Since the holidays, retail has yet to regain its footing with Americans continuing to pull back on spending. Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index fell slightly to 11.5 from 11.8 last month, a pattern similar to last year. Planned purchasing over the next 30 days, reflecting anticipated March activity, is 8.7, up from 7.1 the prior month, seeding hopes for an upturn in the near term.

“Consumers are not yet comfortable in their financial situation as the country limps into its fifth year of near-recessionary times,” said Ed Farrell, director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center. “Weak retail is the symptom, not an underlying cause. Consumers will need a clear signal led by a greatly improved jobs outlook to resume spending.”

The Consumer Reports Employment Index this month (49.9) is once again approaching positive territory, but is little changed from February (49.5). In the past 30 days, roughly the same proportion of Americans reported starting a new job (5.8%) as losing a job (6.0%).

The complete Consumer Reports Index report is available at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Hoots of derision

The Conference Board report was issued at the end of February with gasoline prices are at a record high for this early in the year but nevertheless found folks downright cheerful. Its Consumer Confidence Index jumped from from 61.5 in January to 70.8 in February. The index is at its highest level in 12 months.

That report brought hoots of derision from ConsumerAffairs readers.  

"This report is just another example of how media wants manipulate people's thoughts in to believing it's a majority," said Donna DeShon Phillips. 

"Who is the ultimate moron who came up with this bucket of horse manure?" asked Taipan Lam in a posting on ConsumerAffairs' Facebook wall. "This is insulting our intelligence."

That's not the only evidence of growing confidence, either. Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 13,000 level for the first time since well before the financial meltdown of October 2008 and the start of the Great Recession.

It was just a week or so ago that the Consumer Confidence Index issued by the Conference Board was rising in lockstep with gasoline prices, causing more th...

Consumers Shrug Off Global Economic Concerns

Consumer confidence jumps in December

In case you haven't noticed lately, the economic headlines have been full of doom. Europe's credit crisis is threatening to spread, the International Monetary Fund has warned the global economy is in danger of collapse, oil prices are rising because of a feared showdown with Iran.

But U.S. consumers are looking on the bright side these days. The Conference Board's monthly Consumer Confidence Index rose to 64.5 in December from November's 55.2. The Present Situation Index increased to 46.7 from 38.3. The Expectations Index rose to 76.4 from 66.4.

In other words, consumers are feeling much better now than they were just a month ago, for whatever reason.

"After two months of considerable gains, the Consumer Confidence Index is now back to levels seen last spring,” said Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions improved again. Looking ahead, consumers are more optimistic that business conditions, employment prospects, and their financial situations will continue to get better. While consumers are ending the year in a somewhat more upbeat mood, it is too soon to tell if this is a rebound from earlier declines or a sustainable shift in attitudes."

Gas prices

What's behind the burst of optimism? It should be noted that the rising level of confidence coincides with the steady decline in gasoline prices. Even though prices at the pump are still higher than they were a year ago, the drop from high levels of the summer make filling up almost seem like a bargain.

The Conference Board assessment backs up early indications that U.S. retailers enjoyed stronger-than-expected holiday sales, despite a still-recovering economy. In the Conference Board report, the proportion of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 16.7 percent from 13.7 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined to 13.4 percent from 16.1 percent.

Consumers' outlook for the job market was also more favorable. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 13.3 percent from 12.4 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 20.2 percent from 23.8 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes improved to 17.1 percent from 14.1 percent.

Consumer confidence rose again in December...

Consumer Reports Index: Stress Is On the Rise

Consumers face more financial troubles as economy loses more jobs than it creates

Consumers have a guarded outlook of the coming months as stress levels rise, employment remains flat and financial difficulties increase according to the Consumer Reports (CR) Index for February. 

The CR Trouble Tracker Index is up for the third straight month (58.7), revealing increasing financial difficulty for consumers. The index, which tracks the depth and breadth of financial difficulties among households, has climbed from 54.2 last month and from 53.4 one year ago. 

The gains in retail activity coupled with increased financial difficulty may lead to a credit crunch for some consumers, especially as missing payments on major bills (9.7 percent) or missing a mortgage payment (3.2 percent) are up from a year ago. Also, compared with last month, the number of consumers facing negative changes to their credit card terms (e.g., interest rates, penalty fees, credit limit) was up. 

The Consumer Reports Employment Index shows no sign of improvement, as it was unchanged from the prior month at 49.2 and on par with a year prior (49.0). In the past 30 days, 6.7 percent of those surveyed have lost their jobs, but only 5.2 percent have found new positions. 

“February’s Employment Index is indicative of an economy shedding more jobs than it is creating and this kept sentiment in negative territory, despite other measures that have shown gains,” said Ed Farrell, a director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center.  “While the share of those starting a new job was up nominally from January, growth is insufficient to seriously address the expanding pool of unemployed or fresh job seekers.” 

Stress rising

The compounding of these various negative factors may be reason for the rise in the magazine's Stress Index -- a measure of the stress consumers feel in their everyday lives versus a year ago.  Despite a significant drop in January, in February the index is up to 59.3 from 55.4 the prior month and is on par with one year ago (59.9). 

Despite the negative factors, some green shoots remain particularly when it comes to retail. The retail outlook is improving as the CR Past 30-Day Retail Index is up to 11.6 from last year (10.9).  Similar signs of improvement are revealed in the Next 30-Day Retail Index, which rose to 8.3, from 6.9 a year ago. Major home electronics and personal electronics are helping to fuel the retail gains for both indexes. 

After reaching its highest level in two years at 48.7 in January, the Sentiment Index held steady, matching the highest level recorded since October 2008.  An index below 50 represents negative consumer sentiment. 

The Consumer Reports Index report is made up of five key indices: the Sentiment Index, the Trouble Tracker Index, the Stress Index, the Retail Index, and the Employment Index. Here are the key findings: 

Sentiment Index

Consumer sentiment held steady, maintaining its gain from last month and stands at 48.7 -- its highest level in two years.

The most optimistic consumers: Age 18-34 at 55.5 (versus 57.2 the prior month), and households with income of $100K or more at 61.5 (compared with 57.4 a month earlier). The most pessimistic consumers: Households with income less than $50,000 at 44.2 (it was 42.7 the prior month), and those age 65 and older at 41.9 (versus 44.1 a month earlier). 

The index captures respondents’ attitudes regarding their financial situation, asking them if they are feeling better or worse off than a year ago. When the index is greater than 50, more consumers are feeling positive about their situation. When it is below 50, more consumers are feeling worse. It can vary from a high of 100 to a low of 0. 

Trouble Tracker Index

Consumers faced more troubles this month than the month before. The index increased to 58.7 in February from January’s 54.2 as well as one year ago (53.4).

Negative developments were led by an increase in consumers that were unable to afford medical bills or medications in the past 30 days to 17.0 percent, from 15.6 percent in January and 14.7 percent one year ago; and an increase in those that have lost or face reduced health-care coverage (9.3 percent), compared with 8.6 percent last month and 7.5 percent the prior year.

Overall, the most prevalent consumer troubles include: Unable to afford medical bills or medications (17 percent); Missed payment on a major bill -- not mortgage (9.7 percent); Lost or reduced health-care coverage (9.3 percent).

Lower-income households, earning less than $50,000 a year, have been disproportionately affected. In the past 30 days: 26 percent unable to afford medical bills or medications; 14.1 percent missed payment on a major bill (not a mortgage); 12.9 percent Lost or reduced health-care coverage; and 11.7 percent lost job, versus 6.7 percent among all consumers. 

The Trouble Tracker focuses on both the proportion of consumers that have faced difficulties as well as the number of negative events they have encountered. The negative events include: the inability to pay medical bills or afford medication, missed mortgage payments, home foreclosure, interest-rate increase, penalty fees, reduced lines of credit or other changes in credit card terms, job loss or layoffs, reduced health-care coverage or the denial of personal loans. The index is then calculated as the proportion of consumers that have experienced at least one of the negative events comprising the index multiplied by the average number of events encountered. 

Retail Index

Retail continues its recovery. The Past 30-Day Retail Index (reflective of January activity) is 11.6, up from 10.9 last year. Similarly the Next 30-Day Retail Index, reflecting planned purchasing for February, is 8.3, up from 6.9 one year ago. 

Looking in detail at the categories in the Past 30-Day Retail Index (major appliances, small appliances, major home electronics, personal electronics, major yard/garden equipment), gains are attributable to several categories, including major appliances (7.1 percent, versus 6.3 percent a year ago), major home electronics (15.0 percent, compared with 13.9 percent last year), and personal electronics (25.5 percent as opposed to 23.6 percent last year).

The Next 30-Day Retail Index for February -- reflecting February activity -- is 8.3, compared with one year ago (6.9), with personal electronics (17.5 percent, versus 13.2 percent) and major home electronics (9.8 percent, compared with 6.8 percent) accounting for the gains. Planned purchasing for personal electronics is anticipated to be up in February versus the prior month as well (15.9 percent).

Among the non-index categories (new car, used car, home), past 30-day purchasing -- reflecting January activity -- was soft versus one year ago. Past 30-day purchasing for new cars was 1.8 percent, for used cars 4.3 percent, and 1.9 percent for homes. Planned purchasing in February reflects increasing confidence among consumers, with small gains versus one year ago for new cars 3.0 percent, up from 2.7 percent; used cars 5.1 percent, up from 3.7 percent; homes 2.2 percent, up from 1.7 percent. 

The Retail Index looks at consumer purchases in the past 30 days as well as the outlook for planned purchases in the next 30 days across several categories. It represents the proportion of respondents that made a purchase in the following categories: major home appliances, small home appliances, major home electronics, personal electronics, and major yard and garden equipment. The Retail Index is a weighted calculation. For example, a major appliance is of greater value than a small appliance. Because of their size and frequency, car and home purchases are tracked separately. 

Employment Index

The Consumer Reports Employment Index remains weak in February (49.2) and is unchanged from January. In the past 30 days, the proportion of consumers that have lost their job is 6.7 percent, virtually unchanged from a month earlier (6.5 percent). The share of those that have started a job in the past 30 days (5.2 percent) is comparable to a month earlier (4.9 percent), but is much improved from one year ago (3.8 percent). The Index points to two groups that have fared worst this month: adults 35 to 64 years of age (47.8), and those in households earning less than $50,000 (46.6). 

The Employment Index examines the change in employment of those that reported starting a new job versus those that have lost their job or were laid off in the past 30 days. An index below 50 indicates more jobs were lost than gained, while a score more than 50 indicates more jobs were gained than lost in the past 30 days. 

Stress Index

The level of stress consumers feel they are under is up to 59.3 from the prior month (55.4), but is on par with one year ago (59.9). 

The Stress Index captures attitudes regarding the amount of stress consumers feel compared to a year ago. It asks whether they are feeling more stressed or less stressed. When the index is more than 50, consumers are feeling more stress and when it is below 50 they are feeling less stress compared to a year ago. It can vary from 100 (Total Stress) to a low of 0 (No Stress).

Consumer Reports Index: Stress Is On the Rise Consumers face more financial troubles as economy loses more jobs than it creates ...

Consumer Reports Index: American Consumers On the Mend

Latest survey sees economic difficulties declining, but stress on the rise

American consumers are seeing some real improvements this month, according to the Consumer Reports Index for October, with economic difficulties continuing to decline, an improved retail picture and modest gains in employment.

 The CR Trouble Tracker Index has declined for four straight months and now stands at 50.5 -- down nearly three points from the prior month and well below its recent high of 63.5 in June.

 Positive developments were led by a decline in consumers unable to afford medical care or medications, to 12.7 percent from 13.6 percent in September; and a drop in the proportion of Americans who missed a payment on a major bill. On the downside, in the past 30 days, 3.0 percent reported they have missed a payment on their mortgage, compared with 2.4 percent in September.

 Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index for October is 9.9, on par with the prior month (9.8), but down from a year ago (10.4). There was a slight increase in consumer purchasing for personal electronics (23.2 percent, up 1.8 percentage points), and small appliances (18.5 percent, up 1.9 percentage points).

 Consumer Reports Next 30-Day Retail Index stands at 7.4, down from the prior month (7.6), capping three months of decline since July (8.5).Small appliances posted a slight gain in October (11.5) from the prior month (10.6).

 Jobs outlook

The Consumer Reports Employment Index is up slightly this month to 49.5 from 49.1 in September. Overall labor force activity is modest, with fewer people claiming to have started a new job in the past 30 days (5.7 percent), than those that lost their job (6.7 percent).

 Job losses (6.7 percent) were largely unchanged from the prior month (6.9 percent), while job gains were up slightly (5.7 percent) from September (5.0 percent).The employment index remains in negative territory, with job losses outpacing gains.

 Confidence low, stress up

 The Consumer Reports Consumer Sentiment Index is currently at 44.8. Sentiment has doggedly refused to enter positive territory (over 50) since it was first measured by the Consumer Reports Index on October 5, 2008 and stood at 45.3. The CR Stress Index is up in October to 63.2 from 60.1 the prior month, and is at its highest level since April 2010 when it hit 63.8.

 "Americans appear to be experiencing less financial woes, but the key factor continuing to depress consumers is weak employment growth," said Ed Farrell, a director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center."The lack of real improvement on the jobs front will dampen any meaningful improvement in economic activity."

 The Consumer Reports Index report, comprises five key indices: the Sentiment Index, the Trouble Tracker Index, the Stress Index, the Retail Index, and the Employment Index. Here are the key findings:

 Consumer Reports Sentiment Index

 The Consumer Reports Sentiment Index has changed little since October 2009, and now stands at 44.8, virtually unchanged from September (44.1).The most optimistic consumers are between the ages of 18-34 and those with household incomes of $100,000 or more. The most pessimistic are between the ages of 35-64 and 65 or older and those with household incomes under $50,000.

 The Index captures respondents' attitudes regarding their financial situation, asking them if they are feeling better or worse off than a year ago. When the index is greater than 50, more consumers are feeling positive about their situation. When it is below 50, more consumers are feeling worse. The Sentiment Index can vary from a high of 100 to a low of 0.

 Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker Index

The Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker Index showed further improvement this month, pointing to fewer troubles for consumers, dropping to 50.5 in October from 53.7 in September, and is down substantially from one year ago (65.5).

Positive developments were led by a decline in consumers unable to afford medical care or medications, to 12.7 percent from 13.6 percent in September; and a drop in the proportion of people who missed a payment on a major bill.

On the downside, in the past 30 days, 3.0 percent reported that they have missed a payment on their mortgage, versus 2.4 percent in September. The leading problems faced by consumers include:

-- Unable to afford medical bills or medications (12.7 percent)

-- Missed payment on a major bill - not mortgage (8.7 percent)

-- Credit card increased rates/fees, reduced credit line (7.6 percent)

Lower-income households, earning less than $50,000 a year, have been disproportionately affected. In the past 30 days:

-- Unable to afford medical bills or medications (20.6 percent)

-- Missed payment on a major bill - not mortgage (14.4 percent)

--Credit card increased rates/fees, reduced credit line (10.1 percent)

The Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker focuses on both the proportion of consumers that have faced difficulties as well as the number of negative events they have encountered. The negative events include: the inability to pay medical bills or afford medication, missed mortgage payments, home foreclosure, interest-rate increase, penalty fees, reduced lines of credit or other changes in credit-card terms, job loss or layoffs, reduced healthcare coverage, or the denial of personal loans.

The Tracker Index is then calculated as the proportion of consumers that have experienced at least one of the negative events comprising the index multiplied by the average number of events encountered.

Consumer Reports Retail Index

The Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index for October, reflective of September activity, is 9.9 -- on par with the prior month but down from a year ago.

Looking at the category purchases over the past 30 days, there were slight increases logged for personal electronics and small appliances. Among the non-index categories for past 30-day purchases, new cars were up slightly from the prior month, but used cars were down from the month before. Home purchases were off slightly from the September pace.

The Next 30-Day Retail Index, reflective of planned purchases for October, is at 7.4, posting three months of decline from July's recent high of 8.5, and also is down from a year ago.

Within the only small appliances posted a slight gain from the prior month.Among non-index categories, new and used cars are holding steady relative to the prior month. Planned purchasing for homes in the next 30 days, reflecting planned October activity, is up from September, and is at its strongest level of the past nine months.

The Consumer Reports Retail Index looks at consumer purchases in the past 30 days as well as the outlook for planned purchases in the next 30-days across several categories. It represents the proportion of respondents that made a purchase in the following categories: major home appliances, small home appliances, major home electronics, personal electronics, and major yard and garden equipment.

The Retail Index is a weighted calculation. For example, a major appliance is of greater value than a small appliance. Because of their size and frequency, car and home purchases are tracked separately.

Consumer Reports Stress Index

The CR Stress Index is up to 63.2 in October from 60.1 the prior month. Stress has increased steadily over the past two months, and now stands at its highest level since April 2010.

 The Reports Stress Index captures attitudes regarding the amount of stress consumers feel compared to a year ago. It asks whether they are feeling more stressed or less stressed. When it is more than 50, consumers are feeling more stress and when it is below 50 they are feeling less stress compared with a year ago. The index can vary from 100 (Total Stress) to a low of 0 (No Stress).

Consumer Reports Employment Index

 The magazine's Employment Index is up slightly in October (49.5) from the prior month (49.1).

 Overall labor force activity is sluggish, with fewer people claiming to have started a new job in the past 30 days -- 5.7 percent -- than the 6.7 percent that lost their job. Job gains were up slightly from the prior month.

 Job losses in the past 30 days were largely unchanged from September. Workers earning less than $50,000 have been hit the hardest.

The Consumer Reports Employment Index examines the change in employment of those that reported starting a new job versus those that have lost their jobs in the past 30 days. An index below 50 indicates more jobs were lost than gained, while a score more than 50 indicates more jobs were gained than lost in the past 30-

American consumers are seeing some real improvements this month, according to the Consumer Reports Index for October, with economic difficulties continuing...