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CONSUMER UPDATE

The Bloomberg Weekly Consumer Comfort Index has just hit the tape and reveals some interesting takeaways on the state of the consumer for the week ended March 20.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index is not a metric that I have written about at length in the past but the granular nature in which the findings of the survey is presented allows us to gain some valuable insights into sub-trends in the economy. 

Overall, the Index declined to -48.9 for the week ended 3/20 versus -48.5 for the week prior.  Hardly a momentous decline, but a decline nonetheless.  More narrowly, respondents’ view on the state of the economy went from -80.3 to -86 week-over-week.   Personal Finances and Buying Climate were two topics that drew sequential improvements in respondents’ perception of each subject; however, both have deteriorated significantly from five weeks ago.

Segmenting the data by age, as expected, 18-34 year-olds showed the worst week-over-week decline in sentiment on the state of the nation’s economy.   Additionally, it is worth noting that over the past five weeks, 18-34 year-olds’ sentiment has declined rapidly, from -35.7 for the week ended 2/13 to -57.3 for the week ended 3/20. 

Filtering the findings of the survey by income, the only brackets that saw a week-over-week improvement in the index were the $15k to $24.9k and the $40k to $49.9k groups.  All other groups saw a decline, with the $75k to $99k seeing the sharpest decline at -35.6 versus -27.6 for the week prior.

By region, the MidWest was the only area of the country that saw a sequential improvement in the CCI on a week-over-week basis.  The NorthEast saw the steepest decline from 3/13 to 3/20, coming in at -50.5 from -45.6.

The Polarization Index, which represents the difference between Democrats and Republicans, expanded to -7.9 from -3.9 for the week prior.  The larger the absolute figure, the greater the divergence in confidence.  For Republicans and Independents, the most recent week saw a sequential improvement in the CCI, while Democrats’ reading declined.

A summary of the key takeaways from the Bloomberg Weekly Consumer Comfort Index is as follows:

  • 18-34 year olds have become far less optimistic, relative to other age groups, of late.  Joblessness continues to be an issue for this age cohort and compounding stress factors such as high personal debt levels and the general societal malaise in the United States today further drag on sentiment among young adults.
  • Overall, political sentiment has declined for GOP, Democrat, and Independent voters over the last five weeks.  Heightened concerns about government balance sheets, foreign policy, and a dearth of leaders stepping up to the plate for the GOP presidential nominations may be contributing to this trend.
  • Lastly, if you are single or divorced, you registered as being more positive for the week ended 3/20 than you did the week prior.  The married among us, however, saw their sentiment decline week-over-week!

Howard Penney

Managing Director

CONSUMER UPDATE - weekly cons comf