The good news: Consumer confidence still does not appear to be in retreat, much less plunging back down to where it was several months ago. The bad news: It isn’t advancing much, either. But it is still at a better place than it was last year, according to the latest report from BIGinsight.
34.7% of April respondents to BIGinsight’s monthly survey are confident or very confident about economic prospects, essentially flat with the March reading of 34.8% and much better than the April 2011 reading of 28.6%. Sentiment about employment was also flat, with 53.7% expecting a flat job market, 24% expecting more layoffs and 22.3% expecting fewer layoffs. Only 3.1% are concerned about their own job.
50.8% plan to focus on practicality when making purchases – a figure that has loosened a bit from the slightly more uptight March result of 51.3%. On the other hand, focus on necessities has risen from 56.8% to 58.6%.
As for household finance strategies, 39.8% are looking to cut spending; 34.7% plan to pay down debt; and 30.1% are looking to increase savings.
The price of gas is likely a culprit in the spending reduction number noted above. 74.2% expect prices to get even worse by the end of April. 47.7% will take fewer trips; 43.9% will shop closer to home; 39.3% will seek out sales more frequently; and 32.9% will experiment with store brands and generics in their effort to cope with fuel price increases.
What will the price of gas be at the end of the month? It’s ugly – suffice it to say that if it’s anything less than $4.16 per gallon, the average BIGinsight respondent will be pleasantly surprised.