Consumer confidence declines, as future anxiety spikes, in the US

By:
on Mar 27, 2024
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  • The United States Conference Board released its March figures for consumer confidence in the US.
  • The latest data showed flat consumer confidence overall, but rising anxiety for the future.
  • US shoppers also remained the most worried they've been about inflation for four years.

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Shoppers are now not quite as bullish on the economy as they were in recent months, according to new data from the U.S. Conference Board (CB).

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The March figures for the monthly CB Consumer Confidence Report were released yesterday, with lackluster findings after figures had already declined in February.

The figures for March showed American’s confidence in economic conditions ‘eclipsed by rising anxiety about the future’, according to a statement by the board.

Significantly short of confident expectations

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Overall, consumer confidence was found to have declined marginally this month, from 104.8 in February to 104.7 in March.

This fell significantly short of analysts’ expectations of a reading of 107, and comes off the back of February’s consumer figures declining steeply from 110.9 in January to 106.7 last month.

Perhaps most worryingly, average 12-month inflation expectations came in at 5.3 percent—barely changed from February’s 5.2 percent, which was itself the lowest figure reported in four years, since the pandemic.

Present optimism, future anxiety

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As is standard, the index was separated into two parts: the ‘present situation index’, measuring consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, and the ‘expectations’ index’, which focusses on consumers’ near-future outlooks.

While the present situation index increased somewhat to 151 in March, the expectations index actually declined from 76.3 to 73.8.

This comes in spite of the widespread rumors that the United States could get its first interest rate cut as early as June 2024, which would likely be one of at least three, according to the Fed’s indications.

Moving sideways

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Speaking on the findings, chief economist and The Conference Board Dana Peterson said:

Consumers’ assessment of the present situation improved in March, but they also became more pessimistic about the future. Consumers remained concerned with elevated price levels, which predominated write-in responses. However, over the last six months, confidence has been moving sideways, with no real trend to the upside or downside either by income or age group.”

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USA USD Economic Inflation North America Recession Retail