BigResearch finds consumer confidence down one point from October

Worthington, Ohio – In its Consumer Intentions and Actions survey for November, BigResearch found that consumer confidence went down about one point to 29.2% from last month, giving cause for some concern among retailers leading into the holiday season.

“This wasn’t quite so encouraging but relatively flat so not extremely discouraging either,” said Pamela Goodfellow, senior analyst. “And it’s still showing growth from 2008. But our November ’07 reading was 37%, so we are still down a full 8 points from two years ago.”

Goodfellow shared some other findings from the study, in which BigResearch surveyed more than 8,000 consumers from Nov. 3 to 10, which she said might offer an explanation for the consumer confidence decline.

“We have an unemployment rate that has crossed 10% for the first time since 1983 and is expected to keep climbing,” she went on. “We’ve also got almost half of consumers saying they are worse off financially than they were one year ago. And this month, we found that 68% are predicting gas prices to increase through Christmas Day. Consumers’ average pump price prediction for Dec. 25 was $3.05.”

Each month, BigResearch also asks surveyed consumers for their predictions on the layoff situation, “and this month we saw than just over one third predict there will be more layoffs over the next six months.”

Better news: In November, 46% of consumers surveyed say they have become more practical in their purchasing, down nearly 3 points from October and down 4 points from one year ago.

 “This is encouraging because as people become less practical, they start thinking about spending a little more or buying something they wouldn’t normally buy,” she explained.

When asked about which types of purchases they were most likely to put off until a alter date, those under 35 years old said apparel, entertainment and electronics, consumers ages 34 to 54 chose dining out, auto, and home improvement purchases, and the 55-plus segment said vacation travel.

A plus for home came in an evaluation of how different merchandise categories are faring in sales so far this season.

 “Most have really failed to improve from October,” Goodfellow said. “But several categories are a bit brighter than a year ago, like toys, home décor and some apparel, compared to November 2008.”

Still, when compared to 2007, “we see all categories are down,” she continued.

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