Surveys

Consumer Confidence Held Steady in March

SurveysMar 27, 2024

Consumer Confidence Held Steady in March

Optimism about the current state of the economy was offset by anxiety around inflation and the political environment.

Hand holding shopping bags
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index slid down to 104.7 in March as consumers expressed concerns about inflation and anxiety about the future economy.
New York—U.S. consumer confidence was mostly unchanged in March as optimism about the current economy was offset by anxiety about the future, including the political environment.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index slipped to 104.7 in March, down slightly from a downwardly revised 104.8 in February.

Confidence rose among consumers aged 55 and over but fell for those under 55.

Consumers in the $50,000 to $99,999 income range reported lower confidence in March, while confidence improved slightly in all other income groups. 

Dana Peterson, chief economist at The Conference Board, noted that over the last six months, “confidence has been moving sideways with no real trend to the upside or downside either by income or age group.”

“Consumers remained concerned with elevated price levels, which predominated write-in responses. March’s write-in responses showed an uptick in concerns about food and gas prices, but in general complaints about gas prices have been trending downward,” said Peterson.

The average 12-month inflation expectations came in at 5.3 percent, relatively unchanged from February’s four-year low of 5.2 percent.

Recessions fears were trending downward, said the Conference Board, both in write-in responses and by its own measure.

The “Consumers’ Perceived Likelihood of a US Recession Over the Next 12 Months” returned to its downward trajectory after a brief uptick last month.

“Meanwhile, consumers expressed more concern about the U.S. political environment compared to prior months,” said Peterson.

The Present Situation Index, which measures consumers’ current view of business and labor market conditions, rose to 151 in March from 147.6 in February.

Consumers’ view of current business conditions was mixed in March, with the percentage of respondents who said current business conditions are “good” mostly flat at 20 percent, while those who said conditions are “bad” decreased to 17 percent from 18 percent.  

Consumers’ view of the labor market was more positive in March.

The percentage of respondents who felt jobs were plentiful was flat at 43 percent, while 11 percent said jobs were “hard to get,” down from 13 percent last month.

 Related stories will be right here … 

The Expectations Index, which measures consumers’ outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions in the near future, fell to 73.8 from 76.3 in February.

Notably, an Expectations Index reading below 80 often signals a recession ahead, said the Conference Board.

Expectations for the next six months slipped to the lowest level since October 2023, it said.

Looking at short-term business conditions, respondents’ outlooks were more pessimistic, with 14 percent of respondents expecting business conditions to improve, flat from February, while the number of respondents that expect them to worsen was up to 18 percent from 17 percent.

Consumers’ assessment of the short-term labor market outlook in March was essentially unchanged from February.

The percentage of respondents who expect more jobs to be available was flat at 14 percent, while the number of respondents who expect fewer jobs to be available was also flat at 18 percent.

Consumers’ assessment of their short-term income prospects was also more pessimistic in March.

The number of respondents who expect their incomes to increase was up slightly to 17 percent from 16 percent in February. However, more respondents (14 percent) expect their incomes to decrease, up from 12 percent.

Respondents also were more pessimistic about their family financial situation over the next six months, a measure not included in the Expectations Index. 

Consumers had a more positive view of stock prices throughout the year, but concerns about interest rates remained.

The percentage of consumers expecting an increase in interest rates over the year ahead rose above 50 percent for the first time since November 2023, said the Conference Board.

On a six-month basis, plans to buy automobiles, homes, and big-ticket appliances, all purchases that can be subject to interest rates, were down again. 

Planned spending for services in 2024 increased relative to the same time last year, it said, noting consumers plan to spend more on healthcare, motor vehicle services, and lodging for personal travel, while spending less on entertainment.

The Conference Board is scheduled to release its results for April on April 30.

The Latest

My Next Question webinar
Recorded WebinarsApr 12, 2024
Watch: What Jewelers Need to Know About Insurance

From cybersecurity liability to trade show coverage, insurance experts share tips on how to build the right policy.

Evil Eye Charm with Turquoise Disc
CollectionsApr 12, 2024
Piece of the Week: Lionheart’s Evil Eye Gemstone Charm

The charm is a modern rendition of the evil eye amulet that has been worn for thousands of years.

The Jewelry Symposium scholarship winners 2024
Events & AwardsApr 12, 2024
The Jewelry Symposium Announces 4 Scholarship Winners

Ahead of its trade show next month, TJS awarded free registration and accommodations to one jewelry professional and three students.

1-(3.18).JPG
Brought to you by
The Blueprint for Success in Scalable, Personalized Jewelry Retail

With Ho Brothers, you can unlock your brand's true potential and offer customers the personalized jewelry experiences they desire.

SRK Empire and SRK House
Policies & IssuesApr 11, 2024
SRK Exports’ Journey Toward Net Zero Impact

By the end of this year, SRK’s diamond manufacturing complexes will achieve net zero emissions, one of an impressive array of achievements.

Weekly QuizApr 11, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this seven-question quiz.
Take the Quiz
AGTA logo
Lab-GrownApr 11, 2024
AGTA Bans Lab-Grown Diamonds, Gemstones at GemFair

Members can still sell lab-grown stones, it said, but only natural gems are allowed on the show floor.

Steven Rosdal
IndependentsApr 11, 2024
Steven Rosdal, Co-Founder of Hyde Park Jewelers, Dies at 77

He is remembered for his charisma, passion, integrity, kindness, and wit.

Jewelers of America Fly In Washington, D.C.
Brought to you by
How Jewelers of America Represents Your Business

For over 30 years, JA has advocated for the industry, fought against harmful legislation and backed measures that help jewelry businesses.

Macy’s Herald Square store
MajorsApr 11, 2024
Macy’s Opens Books for Possible Buyout

The retailer also appointed two new board members, avoiding a proxy fight from a potential buyer.

AGS Conclave 2024 logo Austin
Events & AwardsApr 11, 2024
10 Can’t-Miss Sessions at AGS Conclave 2024

From lab-grown diamonds and AI to the inevitable Taylor Swift mention, here are some of Conclave’s most intriguing educational offerings.

Sylvie Jewelry model
CollectionsApr 10, 2024
Sylvie Launches New Nature-Inspired Collection, ‘Tulira’

The bridal collection consists of 35 engagement rings and seven wedding bands.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea in 18-karat yellow gold
WatchesApr 10, 2024
These Are Rolex’s New Watches for 2024

The crown introduced a dozen timepieces in Geneva, including a heavy metal version of its deep-sea divers’ watch.

Levy’s Fine Jewelry diamond education
IndependentsApr 10, 2024
Levy's Fine Jewelry Explores Diamond History

The family-owned jeweler has a new education section on its website dedicated to the history of diamond cutting.

With Clarity NFL wedding bands
CollectionsApr 10, 2024
With Clarity Partners With NFL on Wedding Bands

The limited-edition men’s rings can be customized with one of 12 team logos.

Asian Star’s diamond manufacturing facility in India
SourcingApr 10, 2024
Compliance, Caution, and Concern: The Current Outlook of Indian Diamantaires

There is a willingness to comply with new government-mandated regulations, with an insistence that they should be practical and realistic.

Chrono24 watch inspection lab
WatchesApr 09, 2024
Chrono24 Debuts Pre-Owned Watch Authentication Program

The program, now live in Europe, will roll out to the U.S. this summer.

6.21-carat fancy vivid pink diamond
AuctionsApr 09, 2024
Phillips to Offer 6.21-Carat Vivid Pink Diamond

Colored gemstones and signed jewels are the focus of its upcoming Geneva sale.

Lucapa rough colorless and pink diamonds
SourcingApr 09, 2024
Former De Beers Exec Appointed to Lucapa Board

Stuart Brown, who was De Beers’ CFO and interim CEO, is now Lucapa’s independent non-executive chairman.

Jewelers for Children POS System Donations
MajorsApr 09, 2024
Jewel360 Announces New POS Integration, JFC Partnership

The point-of-sale software can now prompt customers to round up their credit card purchases as a donation to Jewelers for Children.

Bharat Ratnam, a Mega Common Facilitation Centre (CFC)
SourcingApr 09, 2024
Reinvigorating SEEPZ, the Epicenter of India’s Studded Jewelry Exports

The zone’s modernization will enhance and increase India’s jewelry manufacturing capabilities while aiding small and mid-sized businesses.

Charles & Colvard moissanite bypass engagement ring
SourcingApr 08, 2024
Charles & Colvard Debuts B2B Portal for Moissanite

Select independent jewelers and retailers can now purchase moissanite through Charles & Colvard Direct.

Amber Rank
Events & AwardsApr 08, 2024
AGS Announces First Recipient of ‘Women in Leadership’ Scholarship

Amber Rank of Exclusively Diamonds will receive mentorship, registration to AGS’s 2024 Conclave, and $500.

Jaeger-LeCoultre citrine pinky-ring watch
AuctionsApr 08, 2024
Sotheby’s ‘Rough Diamonds’ Sale Is All About … Watches

The auction will take place Thursday and is underground, literally.

JOGS logo
Events & AwardsApr 08, 2024
JOGS Show Returns to Las Vegas for a Second Year

The trade show is moving downtown to the Expo at World Market Center.

Kira Diam solar plant
Lab-GrownApr 08, 2024
Indian Lab-Grown Diamond Manufacturers Keep Growing

A combination of factors is driving growth in the industry despite the precipitous drop in prices across the board.

Brilliant Earth and Jane Goodall collaboration logo
MajorsApr 05, 2024
Brilliant Earth Partners with Jane Goodall

The company is teaming up with the Jane Goodall Institute to promote ethical practices and environmental conservation.

Monica Rich Kosann Slim Heart Locket in gold and Jacquelyn Jablonski
CollectionsApr 05, 2024
Piece of the Week: A Locket for Autism Acceptance Month

Monica Rich Kosann created the “Slim Heart” locket in partnership with model and philanthropist Jacquelyn Jablonski.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy