Consumer Confidence Is Still High, According to New Study

Consumer confidence is still relatively high, and remains largely unchanged from mid-July, according to a study released Friday authored by the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin.

Confidence has tumbled by 5.1 index points since January, when consumer confidence was at a 12-year high. But it’s still relatively solid and has been higher in the first seven months of 2017 than in any other year since 2004. The study pointed to ongoing favorable economic conditions as bolstering consumer confidence.

But many consumers feel nervous about the future: Financial expectations fell from 90.3 in January to 80.5 in July, and Curtin writes that if that number continues to decline by another 10 points in the second half of 2017, “the loss would become more worrisome.” 

He adds that consumer expectations are significantly influenced by partisanship; there was a 45-index-point spread in optimism between thoseidentifying as Republican and those identifying as Democrat—63.7 versus 108.7. The score for Independents, 80.5, essentially split that difference.

Curtin writes that the partisan gap has narrowed in the past six months, “mostly due to Republicans tempering their optimism.”

“The recent declines among Republicans were somewhat predictable, but the maintenance of extreme pessimism among Democrats is more surprising,” he added.

(Image courtesy of the National Retail Federation)

JCK Magazine Editor