American Consumer Confidence Holds Up Despite US Bank Collapses

The Conference Board said Consumer Confidence rose in March hit 104.2 (consensus 101.5) versus an upwardly revised 103.4 (from 102.9) for February. In the same period a year ago, the index stood at 107.6. Noticeably consumer sentiment held up well even though the survey period covered the week after Silicon Valley Bank collapsed. The cutoff date for the survey was March 20th, about ten days after the bank failures in the United States. The expectations Index remained below 80.0 for the 12th month out of the last 13, which serves as a concerning signal about future growth.

American consumers’ short-term outlook has become became decidedly gloomy, becoming considerably less upbeat about their short-term income prospects. That is scuppering plans to buy homes, autos, and major appliances.

The Conference Board

US Consumer Confidence March 2023

US CB Consumer Confidence March: 104.2 (est 101.5; prev R 103.4)

  • Present Situation: Decreased to 151.1 (1985=100) from 153.0 last month.
  • Expectations: Ticked up to 73.0 (1985=100) from 70.4 in February (a slight upward revision).

“Driven by an uptick in expectations, consumer confidence improved somewhat in March, but remains below the average level seen in 2022 (104.5). The gain reflects an improved outlook for consumers under 55 years of age and for households earning $50,000 and over,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director, Economics at The Conference Board.

  • The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index (1985=100) increased slightly in March to 104.2 (1985=100), up from 103.4 in February.
  • The Present Situation Index (based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions) (1985=100) decreased to 151.1 (1985=100) from 153.0 last month. 
  • The Expectations Index (based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions) (1985=100) ticked up to 73.0 (1985=100) from 70.4 in February (a slight upward revision).
  • Expectations is below 80 which often signals a recession within the next year. The cutoff date for the survey was March 20th, about ten days after the bank failures in the United States.

    “While consumers feel a bit more confident about what’s ahead, they are slightly less optimistic about the current landscape. The share of consumers saying jobs are ‘plentiful’ fell, while the share of those saying jobs are ‘not so plentiful’ rose. The latest results also reveal that their expectations of inflation over the next 12 months remains elevated—at 6.3 percent. Overall purchasing plans for appliances continued to soften while automobile purchases saw a slight increase.”

    In a special question this month, the Consumer Confidence Survey® asked about consumers’ spending plans on services over the next six months.

    The results reveal that consumers plan to spend less on highly discretionary categories such as playing the lottery, visiting amusement parks, going to the movies, personal lodging, and dining.

    However, they say they will spend more on less discretionary categories such as health care, home or auto maintenance and repair, and economical entertainment options such as streaming. Spending on personal care, pet care, and financial services such as tax preparation is also likely to be maintained.

    The Conference Board publishes the Consumer Confidence Index® at 10 a.m. ET on the last Tuesday of every month. Subscription information and the technical notes to this series are available on The Conference Board website:

    About The Conference Board

    The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

    Source: The Conference Board

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