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Consumer Reports Index Dips in October

Increase in retail activity holds out hope for holiday shopping season

| BY Donald Liebenson

As goes consumer confidence in the economy, so will go the holiday shopping season, suggests October's Consumer Reports Index, a measure of overall consumer financial health.

The Index dropped slightly to 47.6 from 48.8 in September. While sentiment in most major regions in the U.S. remained virtually unchanged, the Northeast dropped 11.3 points to 39 after spending August and September in positive territory (over 50).

The Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker, a gauge of the breadth and depth of financial difficulties among American households, and one of five key indices of the Index report, climbed to 49.7. This increase reflects a rise in financial difficulties, including inability to pay for medical bills or medications; the loss or reduction of health care coverage and failure to meet payments on a major bill other than the mortgage.

As the holiday shopping season gets into gear, there were positive reports on the retail front. Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index found retail activity was 11.3, up from 10.0 the prior month. The Consumer Reports Next 30-Day Retail Index, reflecting planned purchasing in October; increased to 9.3, up from 8.4 the prior month.

The improvement was fueled by purchases of high ticket items, including major appliances and home electronics.

 The Sentiment Index, which captures attitudes regarding their financial situation compared to the previous year,is down slightly to47.6 from the previous month (48.8), but up 44.8 over a year ago. When the Index is greater than 50, consumers are feeling positive about their situation.

Consumers ages 18-34 and households with an income of $100,000 or more are the most optimistic, while households with an income less than $50,000 and seniors ages 65 and older are the most pessimistic. There was a sharp increase in optimism in the younger age group, the Index found.

 The Consumer Reports Employment Index, which examines changes in employment of those that reported starting a new job vs. those who have lost their job or were laid off in the past 30 days, rose to 50.2, breaking into positive territory for the first time since July. In the report, 5 percent said they started a new job in the past 30 days, compared with 4.7 percent who lost their job in the same period.



About the Author


Donald Liebenson

dliebenson@millionairecorner.com

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.