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Retail Surveys

Consumer sentiment on current economy best since ‘08

February 26, 2014

New York--Though Nielsen research shows that their confidence retreated slightly in February, consumers overall are feeling more upbeat than they have in nearly six years.

On Tuesday, The Conference Board released its Consumer Confidence Index for February, a monthly survey gauging consumer sentiment conducted by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics on what consumers buy and watch.

The index stood at 78.1 for the month, down slightly from 79.4 in January. The baseline for the survey is 100. The Conference Board attributed the drop to concern over the short-term outlook for business conditions, jobs and earnings.

However, the Present Situation Index, which is based on asking consumers about their appraisal of current economic conditions, climbed from 77.3 in January to 81.7 in February, improving for the fourth straight month and nearly hitting a six-year high.

The last time the index approached this level was in April 2008--prior to the September 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, which many believe was a key factor in the unfolding of the global financial crisis--when it hit 81.9.

One aspect about the present economy about which consumers seemed to be the most optimistic is the job market. According to the Nielsen research, those claiming jobs are “plentiful” climbed from 13 percent in January to 14 percent in February, while those who said jobs were “hard to get” was flat at 33 percent.

Those claiming business conditions were “good” rose from 21 to 22 percent month-over-month while those who would describe business conditions as “bad” was essentially flat at 23 percent.

“This suggests that consumers believe the economy has improved, but they do not foresee it gaining considerable momentum in the months ahead,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

Based in New York, The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association.