The Conference Board (CB) releases the Consumer Confidence Index on a monthly basis to track how consumers feel about the economy, employment, and spending. The supporting data is based on surveys of about 5,000 different consumers each month and asks questions regarding the current economic conditions as well as their outlook six months ahead.
In addition to the Consumer Confidence Index, the CB also publishes two other Indexes in the same report – the Present Situation Index, which focuses on current conditions, and the Expectations Index, based on near-term outlooks.
This morning’s Consumer Confidence Index for September came in at 103.0, worse than forecast and 5.7 points below the upwardly revised August figure. The Present Situation Index inched up to 147.1 from 146.7 last month and the Expectations Index decreased to 73.7 from 83.3 in August, its second consecutive decline and now in the Conference Board’s recession-signal territory (a reading below 80.0).
Future expectations continue to soften as consumers deal with high prices and even higher interest rates. Fears of a looming recession ticked up in August consistent with the Conference Board’s forecast of a short and shallow economic contraction in the first half of 2024.
Consumers’ assessments of the current situation were mostly unchanged due to diverging views on economic conditions.
Here’s an excerpt from today’s press release:
“Consumer confidence fell again in September 2023, marking two consecutive months of decline,” said Dana Peterson, Chief Economist at The Conference Board. “September’s disappointing headline number reflected another decline in the Expectations Index, as the Present Situation Index was little changed. Write-in responses showed that consumers continued to be preoccupied with rising prices in general, and for groceries and gasoline in particular. Consumers also expressed concerns about the political situation and higher interest rates. The decline in consumer confidence was evident across all age groups, and notably among consumers with household incomes of $50,000 or more.”
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