Confident Consumers Ring in New Year

Many marketers were anything but confident going into–and coming out of–the holiday selling season, but consumer confidence has picked up considerably. After declining for three months, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rebounded in December to 102.3, up from 92.6 in November. The expectations index rose to 99.9 from 90.2, while the present situation index increased to 105.9 from 96.3.

Those survey respondents claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 24.4% from 23.2%, while those claiming conditions are “bad” fell to 17.8% from 20.2%. What’s more, consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 19.4% from 17.1%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined to 26.4% from 28.0%. Consumers’ outlook for the near future was also positive. Those expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months rose to 22.0% from 20.3% last month. Those anticipating business conditions to worsen fell to 7.7% from 11.4%.

Why are consumers so upbeat? “The continuing economic expansion, combined with job growth, has consumers ending the year on a high note,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center in a statement. “The most significant contributor to the rebound in confidence has been the overall improvement in current conditions over the past 12 months. And consumers’ outlook suggests that the economy will continue to expand in the first half of the new year.”

Based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households, the monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for the Conference Board by TNS NFO. The cutoff date for December’s preliminary results was Dec. 20.