The Pessimistic Consumer

Discussion
Jan 02, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson


The confidence of consumers may not be shattered, but it certainly is shaken based on the December numbers from the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index.


December was the sixth time in seven months that consumer sentiment slipped. Rising unemployment and concerns about job prospects are said to be the major factors in consumer unease.


Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s consumer research center, said, “Weak retail sales over the holidays clearly reflect the current mood of consumers. Until there is an improvement in labor market conditions, there is not likely to be a significant upturn in consumer confidence.”


Moderator’s Comment: Two Questions–



  1. Do you believe that job prospects will improve in
    2003?

  2. What impact is the current job market having on
    retail sales and operations?


We do believe that there will be some improvement in the
job market this year as businesses begin to reinvest (see our comments in today’s
General Retail section, “2003 To Be More of the Same?”). We do not expect to
see an appreciable difference, however, as companies try to keep costs low to
recoup losses from the past several years. Next year and 2005 appear more promising
for the prospects of job seekers. [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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