Foodservice Equipment Reports

Consumer Confidence Measures Move Higher

Both major surveys of consumer confidence moved higher in February, reaching levels not seen for three years, as consumers began to feel a bit better about the economic and employment outlooks. Both the Consumer Sentiment Index fielded by the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers and The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index hit their highest marks since February 2008.

The Surveys of Consumers Sentiment Index reached 77.5, up from 74.2 last month and 5.3% above the 73.6 mark of February ’10. “Consumers are increasingly aware that the economy is improving and, more importantly, expect job prospects to become more favorable in 2011,” said Richard Curtin, Surveys of Consumers’ chief economist. Curtain also noted that all the gain in the February numbers came from households with incomes above $75,000. Sentiment among households with less income actually fell slightly. Still, since higher-income consumers are responsible for more foodservice spending, this may still benefit the market.

The Consumer Confidence Index also hit a three-year high at 70.4, a sharp jump from 64.8 in January. Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center, said the gains stem from consumers’ optimism about the short-term future. “Looking ahead,” she said, “consumers are more positive about the economy and their income prospects, but feel somewhat mixed about employment conditions.”

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