Foodservice Equipment Reports

Consumer Confidence Indicators Mixed, Gas Prices Fall Again

The two leading measures of consumer confidence posted mixed results in September while gasoline prices continued to fall, reaching the lowest level at this time of year since 2004.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index fell nearly five points to 87.2 in the final September reading, from 91.9 in August, as it careened back and forth with stock market prices. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, on the other hand, rose more than 10 points, to 101.5.

Richard Curtin, the UM’s Surveys of Consumers Chief Economist, said U.S. consumers now are more aware than ever that global economic trends can affect the domestic economy, but he also said, “Consumers view the recent stock movements as symptoms of global weaknesses, rather than domestic conditions.” And he noted that while the final September reading of the Sentiment Index was the lowest in 11 months, it was still higher than in any prior month since May 2007.

At The Conference Board, Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco said, “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was considerably more upbeat, primarily due to a more favorable appraisal of the labor market.”

Meanwhile, with the end of the summer driving season and the switch to winter-blend fuels, gasoline prices dropped an average 38 cents for the month ended Sept. 21, according AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. And prices fell another half cent through Sept. 27. Prices as of Sept. 27 stood nearly $1.06 lower than at this time last year. AAA forecasts that moderate declines in gasoline prices should continue throughout the fall.