Consumer confidence still at all-time lows

U.S. consumers continue to be wary about the overall economy and their personal financial situations, according to a new report.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which dropped in December, fell again in January and continues to hover at record lows. The index (1985=100) was at 37.7 in January, down from 38.6 in December.

“The Consumer Confidence Index continues to hover at all–time lows and it appears that consumers have begun the new year with the same degree of pessimism that they exhibited in the final months of 2008,” says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, based in New York.

The Present Situation Index dipped from 30.2 in December to 29.9 in January. The Expectations Index fell from 44.2 in December to 43.

“Looking ahead, consumers remain quite pessimistic about the state of the economy and about their earnings. And, until we begin to see considerable improvements in the Expectations Index, we can’t say that the worst of times are behind us,” Franco says.

When it comes to current conditions, the number of consumers saying that overall business conditions are “bad” increased to 47.9% in January from 45.8% in December. Those saying that business conditions are “good” fell to 6.4% from 7.7%.

The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to worsen during the next six months dropped just slightly, from 32.9% in December to 31.1% in January. Those expecting conditions to improve remained relatively unchanged—13.3% in January, from 13.4% in December.

The monthly confidence survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. Results for January are based on numbers collected before Jan. 21.


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