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Confidence Continues Slide In November

Don Hogsett, December 6, 2004

New York — Consumer confidence took an unexpected slide during November, wiping out analysts' expectations for a comeback, and tumbled for a fourth straight month, hampered by a weakening jobs outlook.

The Conference Board's widely watched barometer of consumer sentiment and forward consumer spending slipped 2.6 percent, to a current reading of 90.5 percent, down from an October level of 92.9. Over the past five months, the index has skidded 14.4 percent from a 13-month high of 105.7 in July.

The outlook through the holidays is holding steady, said The Conference Board, boding well for retailers, but beyond the new year, consumers are growing increasingly unsettled.

“With consumers' assessment of current conditions holding steadfast and intentions to spend for the holiday season up from a year ago, the outlook for retailers is mildly encouraging,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. “But looking beyond the upcoming holidays, the continuing erosion in expectations suggests consumers do not feel the economy is likely to gain major momentum in early 2005.”

The employment picture, the business think tank reported, was not as encouraging as a month ago. Looking out six months, the number of consumers who expect fewer jobs to become available rose to 19.7 percent from 18.3 percent.


Region % change
Source: The Conference Board
New England -11.2%
Middle Atlantic -15.2
East North Central 3.3
West North Central 5.2
South Atlantic -1.7
East South Central -9.2
West South Central 0.3
Mountain -13.0
Pacific -8.1

Plans to purchase over the next six months

Source: The Conference Board
Homes -33.3%
Carpets -26.0
Cars -41.7
Major appliances -12.9
Vacation 13.5