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 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.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.
Consumer Affairs

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