Confidence back down in December
Powell Slaughter -- Home Textiles Today, January 6, 2003
With a weak jobs outlook still weighing heavily and Americans less optimistic about their income expectations, consumer confidence stumbled in December, declining by 5.4 percent and giving up the gains it had made in a short-lived rally the month before.
The Conference Board, which polls 5,000 households every month, said confidence levels declined to a reading of 80.3, down from 84.9 in November. It was the second-lowest reading of the past 13 months, coming in only slightly above the low of 79.6 touched in October. Confidence levels have plunged more than 27 percent in the past seven months, since reaching a high this year of 110.3 in May.
"Latest signs from consumers are in keeping with a continuing mixed bag of economic news," said Lynn Franco, director the he business think tank's Consumer Research Center. "But the major factor dampening consumers' spirits has been the rising unemployment rate and the discouraging job outlook."
Acting as a major drag on their overall outlook, consumers say they expect fewer jobs to become available in the next six months. And they're getting antsy about their earnings potential as well. Only 18.7 percent say they expect an increase in their incomes over the next six months, down from 19.4.
Plans to buy a car advanced by 7.4 percent, but more consumers said they plan to buy a less costly used car than a more expensive new car.
Home-buying plans advanced by 3.2 percent, with somewhat more saying they plan to buy new homes rather than previously-owned homes.
But when it comes to furnishing their homes, buying plans were down. Plans to buy a carpet fell by 7.7 percent, and plans to buy major appliances slipped by 1.7 percent.
Consumer confidence by region
|East North Central||-15.6|
|West North Central||-17.9|
|East South Central||-5.4|
|West South Central||-8.4|
Consumer Buying Plans — December
plans to purchase over the next six months
|Source: The Conference Board
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