The latest look at consumer confidence by BIGinsight shows the upward trend is still in place. In fact, BIGinsight says that the March datapoint showing 34.8% of all consumers either confident or very confident that the economy will be strong is the best score it’s recorded since December of 2007.
The March reading eclipses both February 2012 (33.1%) and March 2011 (29.1%).
However, the improvement comes with some more somber undertones. For one thing, consumers are more likely to watch their spending. In February, only 41.9% said they be more practical in their purchasing habits – that number soared to 51.3%. Similarly, in February 19.6% said they would focus in necessities; that number is now up to 56.8%.
Consumer thoughts on the employment picture going forward would form a bell curve. 23.9% expect more layoffs, 53.4% expect no change and 22.9% expect less layoffs.
There is further evidence that the Fall 2008 financial implosion has made household fiscal responsibility a habit – 34.6% plan to pay down debt; 32.4% plan to decrease spending, and 29.9% plan to increase savings.
The price at the pump is, to say the least, a major concern, and 50.9% plan to drive less as a result. Most expect prices to continue to rise. Pessimism on prices is rampant – consumers had expected the end-of-February average cost-per-gallon to sit at $3.69. Now they expect the end of March to hit $4.08.
RBR-TVBR observation: Interesting – consumers see enough good economic news that they are increasingly optimistic even when faced with obvious bad news, especially gas prices. And clearly, although optimism is improving, consumers are nevertheless improving their own financial underpinnings.
With BIGinsight’s results seeming to be oddly optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, we await with keen interest further confidence reports to see what kind of results other researchers are getting.