Following a yearlong period of steady increases in consumer confidence, midstate residents have suddenly changed their minds and become much less optimistic about the future of the American economy, according to recently released data.
That’s the outlook according to the Consumer Outlook Index just released by the Office of Consumer Research at Middle Tennessee State University.
The survey of 422 randomly selected adult residents of Davidson, Rutherford and Williamson counties was conducted on the evenings of Nov. 27 and Nov. 29.
The overall consumer outlook index dropped sharply to 106 from 178 in September.
“Any momentum that was building to help bolster consumers’ outlook on the economy has seemingly halted,” said Tim Graeff, director of the Office of Consumer Research. “This change in outlook is fueled by growing concerns about the future economy.”
The future expectations index plunged to 55 from 112. Similarly, consumers have taken a less positive view toward making large purchases, with the purchasing situation index dropped to 73 from 92.
Perceptions of the current economy are still negative, even though the current situation index gained modestly to -22 from -26. In general, consumers continue to view the current economy negatively and have become increasingly wary of the prospects for a quick turnaround in the economy.
Other highlights from the report:
Increases in taxes can decrease the amount of money that consumers have for discretionary spending. The survey showed a sharp increase in the percent of consumers who expect their tax bill to rise in the next year.
A rising U.S. stock market can give consumers a greater feeling of wealth as their investments and savings grow. The survey showed a marked increase in the percent of consumers who expect the stock market to decrease in value over the next year, coupled with a modest decrease in the percent who expect it to rise in value over the next year.
Almost half of consumers surveyed expect to increase their level of saving, whereas very few consumers expect to decrease their level of saving.
Christmas and holiday spending
When asked about their expected Christmas and holiday spending, fewer consumers expect to increase their spending compared to what they spent last year, whereas more consumers expect to spend about the same as last year.