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Shoppers’ Pessimism Growing

Consumer Confidence Index drops for third month in a row.

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Shoppers’ Pessimism Growing
Grocery prices loom large with shoppers. PHOTOGRAPHY: Wirestock/iStock.com

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index declined moderately in October to 102.6 (1985=100), down from an upwardly revised 104.3 in September, the third monthly decline in a row for the widely watched economic barometer.

Helping determine the overall direction of the survey results are these two major components:

  • The Present Situation Index—based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions—declined to 143.1 (1985=100) from 146.2.
  • The Expectations Index—based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions—fell slightly to 75.6 (1985=100) in October, after declining to 76.4 in September.

The conference board noted that the Expectations index is still below 80, the level that historically signals a recession within the next year. Consumer fears of an impending recession remain elevated, consistent with the short and shallow economic contraction the board anticipates for the first half of 2024.

“October’s retreat reflected pullbacks in both the Present Situation and Expectations Index,” said Dana Peterson, Chief Economist at The Conference Board. “Write-in responses showed that consumers continued to be preoccupied with rising prices in general, and for grocery and gasoline prices in particular. Consumers also expressed concerns about the political situation and higher interest rates. Worries around war/conflicts also rose, amid the recent turmoil in the Middle East. The decline in consumer confidence was evident across householders aged 35 and up, and not limited to any one income group.”

The monthly Consumer Confidence Index is based on an online sample and is conducted for The Conference Board by Toluna, a consumer insights/market research firm.

Click here from more from the latest survey.

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