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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Consumer Confidence Declines Again


Consumers continue to be skeptical when it comes to the performance of the U.S. economy, particularly in regards to their opinion of the job market, according to The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index.

The index, which had declined sharply in June, retreated further in July. The Index now stands at 50.4 (1985=100), down from 54.3 in June. The Present Situation Index decreased to 26.1 from 26.8. The Expectations Index declined to 66.6 from 72.7 last month.

“Consumer confidence faded further in July as consumers continue to grow increasingly more pessimistic about the short-term outlook,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Concerns about business conditions and the labor market are casting a dark cloud over consumers that is not likely to lift until the job market improves. Given consumers’ heightened level of anxiety, along with their pessimistic income outlook and lackluster job growth, retailers are very likely to face a challenging back-to-school season.”  

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was more downbeat in July. Those saying conditions are “bad” increased to 43.6 percent from 41 percent, however, those saying business conditions are “good” increased to 9 percent from 8.4 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was also more negative. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 45.8 percent from 43.5 percent, while those saying jobs are “plentiful” remained unchanged at 4.3 percent.   

Consumers’ short-term outlook also deteriorated further in July. The percentage of consumers expecting an improvement in business conditions over the next six months decreased to 15.9 percent from 17.1 percent, while those anticipating conditions will worsen rose to 15.7 percent from 13.9 percent.

Consumers were also more pessimistic about future job prospects. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 14.3 percent from 16.2 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 21.1 percent from 20.1 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 10 percent from 10.6 percent.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by TNS, the world’s largest custom research company. The cutoff date for July’s preliminary results was July 21.

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