Consumer Confidence Dips in April

The headline number of 107.3 was a decrease of 0.3 from the final reading of 107.6 for March.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® decreased slightly in April, after an increase in March. The Index now stands at 107.3 (1985=100), down from 107.6 in March. The Present Situation Index—based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions—fell to 152.6 from 153.8 last month. However, the Expectations Index—based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions—ticked up to 77.2 from 76.7.

“Consumer confidence fell slightly in April, after a modest increase in March,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The Present Situation Index declined, but remains quite high, suggesting the economy continued to expand in early Q2. Expectations, while still weak, did not deteriorate further amid high prices, especially at the gas pump, and the war in Ukraine. Vacation intentions cooled but intentions to buy big-ticket items like automobiles and many appliances rose somewhat.”

“Still, purchasing intentions are down overall from recent levels as interest rates have begun rising. Meanwhile, concerns about inflation retreated from an all-time high in March but remained elevated. Looking ahead, inflation and the war in Ukraine will continue to pose downside risks to confidence and may further curb consumer spending this year.” Read more

Putting the Latest Number in Context

The chart below is another attempt to evaluate the historical context for this index as a coincident indicator of the economy. Toward this end, we have highlighted recessions and included GDP. The regression through the index data shows the long-term trend and highlights the extreme volatility of this indicator. Statisticians may assign little significance to a regression through this sort of data. But the slope resembles the regression trend for real GDP shown below, and it is a more revealing gauge of relative confidence than the 1985 level of 100 that the Conference Board cites as a point of reference.

Consumer Confidence