U.S. Consumer Confidence: Delta Variant Dings Attitudes
Americans felt less confident in Aug. When the pandemic resurged, the confidence index fell to its lowest level since Feb – but it’s too soon to draw long-term conclusions.
BOSTON – The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined in August, following a decrease in July, which was revised downward.
The Index fell 11.3 points. It now stands at 113.8, down from July’s 125.1 in July.
The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – fell to 147.3 from 157.2 last month. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term future outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – fell to 91.4 from 103.8.
“Consumer confidence retreated in August to its lowest level since February 2021 (95.2),” says Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Concerns about the delta variant – and, to a lesser degree, rising gas and food prices – resulted in a less favorable view of current economic conditions and short-term growth prospects.”
Americans still seem willing to spend money after a year-and-a-half of pandemic precautions, but attitudes about big-ticket applications, such as homes, autos and major appliances, cooled a bit. However, the Conference Board noted an increase in the percentage of consumers who plan to take a vacation in the next six months, a number that continues to climb.
“While the resurgence of COVID-19 and inflation concerns have dampened confidence, it is too soon to conclude this decline will result in consumers significantly curtailing their spending in the months ahead,” Sandoval says.
- 19.9% of consumers said business conditions are “good,” down from 24.6%
- 24.0% said business conditions are “bad,” up from 20.0%
- 54.6% said jobs are “plentiful,” down from 55.2%
- 11.8% said jobs are “hard to get,” up from 11.1%
Future expectations – six months from now
- 22.9% of consumers expect business conditions to improve, down from 30.9%
- 17.8% expect business conditions to worsen, up from 11.9%
- 23.0% expect more available jobs in the months ahead, down from 25.5%
- 18.6% anticipate fewer jobs, up from 17.8%
- 17.9% expect their incomes to increase, down from 20.0%
- 10.1% expect their incomes to decrease, up from 8.8%
The monthly survey is based on an online sample and conducted for The Conference Board by Toluna, a technology company. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was August 25.
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