Consumer confidence dips in December


ChartThe BIGinsight consumer sentiment barometer dropped a few points as 2012 winds down to a close. Still, the December sounding is the best the research company has recorded for the month going back to 2007.

Currently 37.6% of those surveyed are confident or very confident about the chances for a strong economy, down from 39.7% in November.

If there is a disturbing sentiment uncovered by BIGinsight, it’s the 45% increase in those who expect to see an increase in layoffs in the coming six months – it jumped from 22% to 31.8%. However, the result is leavened by 47.3% who expect no change and 20.9% who expect fewer layoffs.

Practicality is the purchasing strategy of the day for 48.1%, up from 43% in November. And 53.7% will focus their expenditures on needs rather than wants, up from 50.2%. Other household financing strategies include paying down debt (33.7%), decreasing overall spending (32.5%) and increasing savings (27.9%).

At least gas prices have stabilized – in fact, their down eight cents from November to $3.62 per gallon. However, consumers are still employing money-saving strategies tied to the high price of gas. Clearly many of us believe its only a matter of time before the price rises again.

RBR-TVBR observation: This isn’t a great way to close out the year, but there are still a number of positive signs, assuming our friends in Washington can find a way to avoid mucking things up. We continue to believe that a big positive event, or a continuing series of smaller positive events, will unleash pent-up consumer demand for put-off high-ticket purchases and provide a jump-start to the sluggish economy.