Written by Steven Hansen
The latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index’s headline number significantly declined, following an increase in February. The Index now stands at 120.0 (1985=100), down from 132.6 in February. A quote from the Conference Board: “March’s decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction – rather than a temporary shock – and further declines are sure to follow.“
The consensus range from Econoday was 105.0 to 120.0 (consensus 111.0). This month’s index is based on data collected through March 19, 2020.
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Per Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board:
Consumer confidence declined sharply in March due to a deterioration in the short-term outlook. The Present Situation Index remained relatively strong, reflective of an economy that was on solid footing, and prior to the recent surge in unemployment claims. However, the intensification of COVID-19 and extreme volatility in the financial markets have increased uncertainty about the outlook for the economy and jobs. March’s decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction – rather than a temporary shock – and further declines are sure to follow.
Caveats Relating to CB Consumer Confidence
From the Conference Board:
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.
Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services for all devices on which content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90 percent of the world’s population. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.
The Conference Board compiles a survey of consumer attitudes on the economy. The headline Consumer Confidence Index is based on consumers’ perceptions of current business and employment conditions, as well as their expectations for six months hence regarding business conditions, employment, and income. Three thousand households across the country are surveyed each month. In general, while the level of consumer confidence is associated with consumer spending, the two do not move in tandem each and every month.
Consumer confidence and retail sales generally move in tandem but not necessarily each and every month. Note that consumer assessments of employment conditions are heavily weighted in the consumer confidence index.