Consumer confidence continues to slip


ChartAnother prominent measurer of consumer confidence – the Conference Board – is reporting erosion. Sentiment about both current conditions and about the future both took hits.

The baseline Consumer Confidence Index stands at 64.9, down from April’s 68.7. The Expectations Index fell to 77.6 from 80.4, and Present Situation Index fell to 45.9 from 51.2.

CB’s Lynn Franco commented, “Consumer Confidence fell in May, following a slight decline in April. Consumers were less positive about current business and labor market conditions, and they were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook. However, consumers were more upbeat about their income prospects, which should help sustain spending. Taken together, the retreat in the Present Situation Index and softening in consumer expectations suggest that the pace of economic growth in the months ahead may moderate.”

Slippage was recorded in a number of other areas: Those who see bad current business conditions was up from 33.2% to 34.3%; those who see improvement fell from 15.5% to 13.6%. On the employment side, the number seeing jobs as hard to get grew from 38.1% to 41%.

Looking ahead six months, consumers produced a mixed result: 16.6% expect improved business conditions during that period, down from 18.5% in April; but only 13.1% expect conditions to worsen, better than the 14.2% that said the same a month ago.

RBR-TVBR observation: Overall, we still seem to be seeing a mixed bag of results from these types of surveys. Consumer surveys, which had been positive as 2012 began, started to plateau and now are showing signs of slippage. On the other hand, surveys of business executives have been routinely positive.

Take the two results together and it adds up to continued stagnation. However, there are clearly more silver linings being spotted amongst the dark clouds than we were seeing in 2009-2011, and we’re very encouraged by the fact that it is the executive class that sees signs that inspire some optimism.