Fleet Management

Consumer Confidence Takes A Nosedive

October 30, 2001

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Consumer confidence has been counted on as being a key element to keep the U.S. economy from heading further south, but now it appears to be eroding, too.

On Tuesday, the Conference Board, the private New York based business research group, reported its index of consumer confidence in October slipped to its lowest level in seven years. The index has fallen to 85.5 after posting a 97 in September and about 115 in the first half of the year.
Newport Communications Senior Economist Jim Haughey says the news is unwelcome for trucking.
“Most of the decline was due to the assessment of current economic conditions while expectations for six months ahead fell very slightly. This suggests a reasonably short downward spike in spending and freight.”
Yesterday’s report follows one last week from The University of Michigan, in which its confidence index reported a much smaller drop. According to Haughey, the Michigan index asks about financial well being and buying plans, while the Conference Board index asks about business and labor market conditions.
He says, “both have worsened significantly without causing a parallel decline in buying plans in either of the surveys. Nervous retailers are already discounting heavily to move inventory, so unit volume - important for freight - will not fall as much as sales volume.”
Haughey says while disappointing, the large Consumer Confidence Index decline is not enough bad news to mark down the economic outlook again.

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