Commentary

Research Brief: Consumers More Confident

Research Brief: Consumers More Confident

According to the BIGresearch Consumer Intentions & Actions Survey in December, consumer confidence is ending on a high note with 48.3% very confident/confident in the future of the economy v. 44.2% in November. Consumers also more confident than they were 1 year ago, when 43.9% were confident in a strong 2003. Worry about political and national security issues continues to fall and closes the year under 20% for the first time, as only 17.7% continue to be concerned.

With the holidays approaching, consumers are giving less thought to being practical, with 43.8% saying so in December, down from 45.9% last month. Consumers are also less concerned with needs over wants this month, which declined from 55.6% in November to 49.4%. However, don't look for consumers to let loose completely yet... we may again see the return of the practical consumer, the report says.

Consumers look for employment outlook to improve, as 6 month layoff predictions reach their most positive reading to date. And fewer consumers in December are concerned with paying down debt (43.8% v. 44.4% in November), although this still remains #1 financial plan.

Consumers feeling a bit more at ease about returning to Wall Street this month, as 42.5% say they would "definitely or probably" invest in the stock market, up from 40.6% in November. Consumers also slightly more likely to buy stocks (7.9% in December v. 7.7% in November) and less likely to sell (3.8% v. 4.3% last month).

With the holiday holiday shopping season in full swing, consumers became slightly less likely to be concerned with buying clothing on sale. However, an overwhelming 86.8% (v. 88.1% in November) still usually or only buy clothing when on sale. Consumers have also become less brand conscious over the past year.

Here's a quick recap of December's "ups" and "downs" for high-dollar items:

  • UP: computer, furniture, TV/VCR/DVD, vacation travel;
  • DOWN: jewelry/watch, major home improvement/repair;
  • FLAT: home appliances, house, RV/boat, stereo equipment.

    Many consumers continue to watch their diets going into the holiday season. 42.5% are watching fat intake, 36%, calorie intake, 27.7% carbohydrate intake and 27.4% salt/sodium intake.

    The older generation (55+) is the most health conscious right now, with 50.6% watching fat intake, 41.8% counting calories, 40.7% watching salt/sodium intake, and 33.5% cutting back on carbs

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