BIGresearch and Ipsos (for RBC) release their US confidence indexes in the middle of the month, while the US surveys from TNS NFO and the University of Michigan, together with the TNS Canadian Facts survey, are updated at the end of each month. The Canadian index from Decima Research and the Investors Group is updated half yearly.
USA - BIGresearch Consumer Confidence Index
Latest results (updated November 2008) Confidence rose slightly post-election in November with 22.3% confident/very confident in chances for a strong economy, rising from 19.0% last month, but down a substantial 15 points from one year ago. Those who voted for President-elect Obama indicate slightly higher confidence (26.6%), while those backing Senator McCain are portending a still-grim outlook (15.5%).
Although the unemployment rate rose to 6.5% in October, consumers are slightly more optimistic for the US employment future than they were in October, although three in five (59.4%) still expect more layoffs in the coming 6 months, lowering several points from last month’s 63.5%.
One in three (30.7%) contend layoff levels will remain the same (v. 29.6%), while 9.8% hope for fewer, rising from 6.9% thirty days ago.
Compared to October, consumers have eased back on their intent to decrease overall spending (35.5%), increase savings (26.5%), and pay with cash more often (23.5%). The financial priority, paying down debt, remains flat (36.3%). However, consumers are still more likely to be financially conservative versus one year ago.
Consumer spending appears to have perked up in November, according to the Diffusion Index (those who say they’ll spend less subtracted from those who will spend more).
When posed the statement 'My philosophy of spending is 'live for today, because tomorrow is so uncertain', the majority (53.8%) indicated that they disagreed/strongly disagreed, rising from the 48.7% who said the same one year ago. 26.0% say they are prone to spend.
Methodology BIGresearch's syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions (CIA) survey monitors more than 8,000 consumers each month. The main confidence index represents the percentage of consumers who are confident or very confident about the chances of a strong economy.
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- Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index (TNS NFO)
(updated 25 November 2008)
The index, which had declined to an all-time low in October, improved moderately in November. The Index now stands at 44.9 (1985=100), up from 38.8 in October. The Present Situation Index decreased to 42.2 from 43.5 last month. The Expectations Index increased to 46.7 from 35.7 in October.
Consumers' assessment of current conditions deteriorated further in November. Those claiming business conditions are bad increased to 40.3% from 37.1%, while those claiming business conditions are good edged up to 9.9% from 9.4% last month. Consumers' assessment of the labor market was more negative than a month ago. Those saying jobs are hard to get rose to 37.2% from 36.6% in October, while those claiming jobs are plentiful decreased to 8.8% from 9.0%.
Consumers' short-term outlook was less pessimistic. Those anticipating business conditions to worsen over the next six months declined to 28.1% from 36.5%, while those expecting conditions to improve rose to 11.4% from 9.6%.
The outlook for the labor market was also less negative. The percent of consumers anticipating fewer jobs in the months ahead declined to 33.3% from 41.5%, while those expecting more jobs increased to 9.2% from 7.3%. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes increased to 13.3% from 11.1%.
The monthly survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 US households conducted by TNS. 100 represents the level of consumer confidence in 1985.
USA - The Reuters / University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment
Latest results (updated November 2008) Consumers have expressed the most pessimistic economic outlook in the past quarter century just as the holiday shopping season gets underway.
Consumer confidence fell in the last half of November due to mounting job losses, falling incomes, and the evaporation of household wealth. There have been only two surveys during the past half century that found consumers more pessimistic than now, in April and May of 1980—the all-time low was 51.7, a mere 3.6 Index-points below the current figure.
Consumers were unanimous in their recognition that the economy was in recession, and nearly three-in-four expected the recession to deepen in the months ahead. The economic downturn was anticipated to prompt a stunning decline in the inflation rate: 39% of all consumers in November expected a zero inflation rate or outright deflation, up from just 5% six months ago.
Although their reluctance to make discretionary purchases is primarily due to job and income uncertainty, consumers’ desire to increase their saving and reserve funds as well as stringent limitation of the availability of credit will also curtail spending.
Overall, the data indicate the bleakest holiday spending season since 1980, with declines in consumer spending lasting until the 4th quarter of 2009. Total consumption expenditures are expected to fall by about -1.0% in 2009.
Few consumers expect the recession to end anytime soon as just 14% of all consumers in November expected the return of good times financially in the economy during the year ahead.
The expected year-ahead inflation rate plunged to 2.9%, down one percentage point from one month ago and nearly two percentage points from three months ago. Moreover, 39% expected no increase at all—22% expected a zero inflation rate and 17% expected deflation.
Other than immediately following 9/11, the last time such a collapse was expected was at the depth of the 1980's recession.
Methodology The index is based on a monthly, nationally representative survey of 5,000 US households. Each month, a cross-section of households is chosen to be re-interviewed six months later. This makes for a rotating panel, with around 40% of respondents in each sample being interviewed for the second time.
USA - Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Consumer Attitudes and Household Spending (CASH) Index (Ipsos)
Latest results (updated 11 December 2008)
The overall index stands at 15.3 for December, 19.4 points below November's 34.7 level, and nearly in line with the all-time low of 14.6 reached in July 2008.
The Jobs Index dropped more than 8 points in December to 65.6, compared to 74.0 last month. Personal job loss experience has now touched half of all Americans, as 50% of consumers report job loss in their immediate circle, compared to 48% last month and 43% in October.
The Expectations Index dropped 44.5 points, to -21.2, the first time the index has been in negative territory since August 2008. This is being driven by job worries and a drop in consumers' expectations for their local economy. In December, nearly one-third of consumers (31%) believe their local economy will be weaker six months from now, up from 24% last month.
The Current Conditions Index dropped to an all-time low in December and currently stands at 16.5, compared to 25.6 last month. More than half of all Americans (53%) rate their local economy as weak to very weak, up from 46% last month.
Methodology The index is based on a monthly national survey by Ipsos Public Affairs of a representative sample of 1,000 adults from across the USA. The index is benchmarked to the 100 reading assigned in January 2002 when measurement began.
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Harris/Decima-Investors Group Index of Canadian Consumer Confidence
(updated 20 September 2008)
Canadian consumers'confidence sagged through the third quarter of the year.
The Canadian index fell to 86.1, a shift of -1.7 points from last quarter. During the same period, US confidence decreased by 0.4 points to 83.4.
The fall in consumer confidence is being fueled by uncertainty about broad economic conditions in Canada in the short term. There has been a notable (6 point) drop in the number who believe the Canadian economy will perform well over the one year horizon, but only a one point deterioration in confidence about the five year outlook.
These concerns about the macro economy in the short term have not created much evidence of worry at a personal or household level. Only one in ten Canadians (11%) believe they and their family will be personally worse off next year, while more than double that number (28%) think they will be better off, up slightly from the previous quarter. The proportion of Canadians who report they are personally better off than last year remained stable, as it has since the last quarter of 2005.
The Index is based upon five questions that probe perceptions of current and future economic conditions, and employs a similar model to the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment. Data is gathered each quarter from a survey of 2012 Canadians.
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TNS Canadian Facts Consumer Confidence Index
Latest results (updated 11 December 2008)
The overall Index now stands at 83.0 compared with 95.6 last month. To put this in perspective, the Index reached 105.7 last December.
The Present Situation Index stands at 84.3, which is down from 103.0 last month. Only 16% of Canadians think the current economy is at least fairly good.
The Expectations Index also plummeted to depths not seen in the four and a half years that TNS Canadian Facts has been conducting the study. The index fell to 80.4 from 93.2 last month.
The Buy Index now sits at 84.1 compared with 88.1 in November.
Methodology The index is part of a global study conducted by TNS. Fieldwork is conducted using the TNS Express Telephone national omnibus survey. A total of 1,015 nationally representative Canadian adults are interviewed each month.