Consumer Confidence And Restaurant Sales Fall Slightly

The first-quarter blahs—a feature of the U.S. economy almost every year since the end of the Great Recession—are upon us again this year. Consumer sentiment, as tracked by the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers, edged down again in the mid-month reading in April, while eating and drinking place sales fell in March, too. The restaurant sales number, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Advance Monthly Sales Report for Retail and Food Services, fell 0.8% in March.

The Consumer Sentiment Index fell to 89.7 from 91 in the final March report. The April preliminary number was the lowest mark since September last year and surprised economists polled by the Wall Street Journal, who had expected a reading of 92. The number has been sliding since the first of the year, even as gasoline prices continued to fall through January and February.

“None of these declines indicate an impending recession, although concerns have risen about the resilience of consumers in the months ahead,” said Surveys of Consumers’ Chief Economist Richard Curtin. But he added, “These apprehensions should ease as the economy rebounds from its dismal start in the first quarter.”

The foodservice and drinking place sales decline in March followed a revised 1.8% increase in February. For the first three months of 2016, foodservice sales are up 1% versus the same three months in 2015.

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