More Mixed Economic Signals

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While some economic data this incipient winter have been positive — slow but steady job creation, a rise in housing prices and applications for new home construction permits, all of which have a direct effect on the pool and spa industry — consumer confidence has remained a troubling laggard.

As a measure of the general feeling of households and prospects for the coming year, the Consumer Confidence Index offers a sense of the buoyancy or anxiety present among consumers. The Conference Board is reporting this measure declined again for the second straight month, accompanied by pessimistic expectations for the first half of 2014.

“Consumer confidence declined moderately in November after sharply declining in October,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Sentiment regarding current conditions was mixed, with consumers saying the job market had strengthened, while economic conditions had slowed. However, these sentiments did not carry over into the short-term outlook. When looking ahead six months, consumers expressed greater concern about future job and earning prospects, but remain neutral about economic conditions. All in all, with such uncertainty prevailing, this could be a challenging holiday season for retailers.”

In line with these results, consumers claiming business conditions are “bad” increased to 25.2 percent from 23.0 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was little changed. 

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also somewhat negative. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead fell to 12.7 percent from 16.0 percent, and the proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined to 14.9 percent from 15.7 percent. 

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