The Times Board of Economists

THE TIMES BOARD OF ECONOMISTS: Consumer confidence on an uptick

2014-02-02T00:00:00Z 2014-02-02T00:02:07Z THE TIMES BOARD OF ECONOMISTS: Consumer confidence on an uptickVanessa Renderman, (219) 933-3244

After months of decline, consumer confidence and spending is on the rise nationally and locally.

The Consumer Confidence Index rebounded in December and increased again in January, according to The Conference Board, which publishes economic indicators.

Data from last week show the index stands at 80.7, up from 77.5 in December.

Global consumer confidence stayed at 94 for the third consecutive quarter, 3 points higher than during the same time period for the previous year, according to Nielsen consumer confidence findings.

"Spending, locally, has been in a bit of an upward motion, and that is also reflected nationally," said Connie Kann, area director of the Better Business Bureau. "The good news is that it's not flat, and it's not going downward."

Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, stated January was the second consecutive month consumer confidence advanced.

“Consumers’ assessment of the present situation continues to improve, with both business conditions and the job market rated more favorably," she stated. "Looking ahead six months, consumers expect the economy and their earnings to improve, but were somewhat mixed regarding the outlook for jobs. All in all, confidence appears to be back on track and rising expectations suggest the economy may pick up some momentum in the months ahead.”

The consumer spending correlates with stock market prices and the year-over-year increase in home sales, Kann said.

People get nervous when "for sale" signs pop up in neighborhood and linger, she said.

"As soon as they see a 'sold' sign on those for-sale homes, they start to feel better," she said.

Kann said people are going to feel more comfortable with spending, going into 2014.

"It's a good sign," she said.

Recent holiday sales were better than expected, despite fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"Retailers were very pleased, given the fact that the number of days was reduced," Kann said.

Many offered discounts, which paid off, she said.

The 2013 holiday shopping season was better than the 2012 season. Consumers were not confident about the economy in 2012, which was reflected in sales, she said.

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