Consumer confidence increased in September, following a large improvement in August. The Index now stands at 138.4 (1985=100), up from 134.7 in August. The Present Situation Index improved marginally from 172.8 to 173.1, while the Expectations Index surged from 109.3 last month to 115.3 this month.
“After a considerable improvement in August, Consumer Confidence increased further in September and hovers at an 18-year high,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The September reading is not far from the all-time high of 144.7 reached in 2000. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remains extremely favorable, bolstered by a strong economy and robust job growth. The Expectations Index surged in September, suggesting solid economic growth exceeding 3.0 percent for the remainder of the year. These historically high confidence levels should continue to support healthy consumer spending, and should be welcome news for retailers as they begin gearing up for the holiday season.”
Consumers’ assessment of current conditions held steady in September. Those stating business conditions are “good” increased from 40.5 percent to 41.4 percent, while those saying business conditions are “bad” declined marginally from 9.3 percent to 9.1 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was somewhat more favorable. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” increased from 42.3 percent to 45.7 percent, but those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased from 12.1 percent to 13.2 percent.
Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook improved considerably in September. The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions will improve over the next six months increased from 24.4 percent to 27.6 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined, from 9.9 percent to 8.0 percent. Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 21.5 percent to 22.5 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs decreased from 13.2 percent to 11.0 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement declined from 25.4 percent to 22.6 percent, but the proportion expecting a decrease declined marginally, from 6.9 percent to 6.5 percent.
The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 14.