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Consumer Confidence Dips In March

Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, April 4, 2005

New York —Dented by a mixed jobs outlook and concerns about business conditions six months out, consumer confidence fell for a second straight month during March, slipping 1.9 percent, to a reading of 102.4 percent from 104.4 percent in February, The Conference Board reported.

The bellwether gauge of consumer sentiment — and a harbinger of future retail sales — has slipped 3.1 percent from a 13-month high of 105.1 touched last July. Even so, confidence levels remain relatively sturdy, and the March reading is sharply up, 15.7 percent, from its year-ago level of just 88.5 in March 2004.

“Consumers are still quite confident despite recent increases in unemployment claims and rising prices at the gas pump,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Their overall assessment of current economic conditions remains favorable and their short-term outlook suggests little change in the months ahead. In fact, while expectations have lost ground, consumers anticipate the job market will continue to improve, and easing employment concerns should help keep spending on track.”

Consumers’ overall assessment of current conditions remains favorable, and the number who say business conditions are good edged up to 25.8 percent from 24.6 percent. But the number who claim conditions are bad also increased, to 16 percent from 15.7 percent.

CONFIDENCE BY REGION

Source: The Conference Board
REGION % CHANGE
New England -6.5%
Middle Atlantic -7.0
East North Central -0.1
West North Central -20.9
South Atlantic 1.2
East South Central 15.4
West South Central -1.8
Mountain 0.3
Pacific 0.9


BUYING PLANS MARCH
Plans to purchase over the next six months

Source: The Conference Board
Carpets 20.9
Cars -20.8
Major appliances 6.7
Vacation -11.5


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