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Consumer Comfort: End To The Uptick?




On a quarterly basis, consumer comfort in the United States has risen rather robustly over the past five years. It’s still not soaring at its pre-recession peaks, but Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort Index (CCI) has experienced steady growth.

The CCI – which measures consumer comfort on a scale of zero (bad) to 100 (good) – currently stands at 43.5.  For the first second quarter of 2016, it clocked in at 43 – down modestly from a first quarter reading of 43.9.

The decline was the index’s third quarterly retreat since the beginning of 2015, when it achieved its post-recession peak of 44.7.  Prior to that, in posted five consecutive quarters of growth.

Take a look …

(Click to enlarge)

consumer comfort quarterly

(Pic via Bloomberg)

Obviously the quarterly trend line still looks promising, doesn’t it?

Sure it does … if you assume the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are healthy.  Lately, that’s a risky bet.

“The national economy subindex’s Q2 difficulties reflect a lack of confidence in the economy that extends beyond the latest volatility,” noted analysts at Langer Research Associates, where the CCI has been compiled dating back to October 1985.  “Recent reports show personal income and spending also have slowed, further challenging a still-shaky economy.”

Indeed … and if incomes and spending continue to slow, expect the shakiness to intensify.

The CCI’s record high of 69 was reached on January 16, 2000. Meanwhile its record low of 23 has been recorded on four separate occasions – most recently on June 21, 2009.

For those of you interested, here’s the latest data (.pdf).