Consumer confidence slips going into retail's big months

NEW YORK, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Consumer confidence in the U.S. economy slipped in November after a sharp drop in October, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The index that is, arguably, viewed as more critical in advance of the holiday shopping season, dropped from 80.2 to 72.4 in October, the month of the partial government shutdown. In November, the firm said its frequently cited confidence index fell further to 70.4.


The Present Situation Index fell from 72.6 to 72 while the Expectations Index, which measures confidence in the economy six months down the road, dropped from 72.2 in October to 69.2 in November, the Conference Board said.

The indexes use 1985 as a starting point for comparisons. The averages for that year were assigned values of 100.

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In the November survey that involved more than 5,000 households, the percentage of respondents who indicated they believe business conditions were "good" edged up from 19.5 percent to 19.9 percent, while those indicating a belief that business conditions were "bad" increased from 23 percent to 25.2 percent.

The percentage of respondents indicating jobs were "plentiful," rose slightly from 11.6 percent to 11.8 percent, while those indicating jobs were difficult to get fell from 34.9 percent to 34 percent.


Confidence in future conditions, however, deteriorated. Respondents expecting improved business conditions rose from 16 percent to 16.6 percent, while those expecting business conditions to grow worse fell from 17.5 percent to 16.8 percent.

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Those figures were offset by views of the labor market, which was more pessimistic.

Respondents expecting more jobs in the future fell -- dropping from 16 percent to 12.7 percent -- while those expecting more job opportunities fell relatively slightly, dropping from 22.6 percent to 21.7 percent.

"Sentiment regarding current conditions was mixed, with consumers saying the job market had strengthened, while economic conditions had slowed," said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement.

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"All in all, with such uncertainty prevailing, this could be a challenging holiday season for retailers," Franco said.

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