Retail Sales Nudge Up; Confidence Edges Down
Although a U.S. Commerce Department report on Aug. 13 showed that retail sales edged up 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from June and increased 3.1 percent unadjusted year over year, consumer confidence has declined this summer. This is due to a combination of slumping housing sales, a negative consumer savings rate, a declining stock market and the ongoing war in Iraq.
Following a surge in July, when the confidence rating was the highest its been in six years, early August’s level is sinking. In a survey conducted by BIGresearch, 43.8 percent of consumers contend they are very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy in August, down from July’s 47.8 percent. Still, it’s a sizable increase from last year at this time (38.6 percent). Here are some more findings of the survey.
* Despite the increase in confidence, slightly fewer consumers (37.9 percent) plan on becoming more practical and realistic in their purchases, down from 38.8 percent this past July and 41.2 percent in August 2006;
* 46.5 percent of consumers say they’re more focused on needs than wants in purchasing, down from July (47.4 percent) and significantly down from last August (51.3 percent);
* 31.7 percent of consumers feel their financial situation is “worse off” than last year;
* Paying down debt is a top priority for 33.1 percent of consumers this August, down from last August’s level of 36.2 percent;
* 33.3 percent of consumers believe there will be more layoffs over the next six months, compared to July’s level of 31.4 percent; and
* Personal fears of being laid off also are on the rise, with 4.7 percent worrying about losing their job, up from 4 percent last month.
For more information, go to www.bigresearch.com .