Consumer confidence rallies to a six-week high

Sentiment about current conditions and investment improves, but Americans anticipate more job losses

The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
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Visit our interactive portal, Ipsos Consolidated Economic Indicators (IpsosGlobalIndicators.com) for graphic comparisons and trended data pertaining to the Ipsos Global Consumer Confidence Index and  sub-indices -- and all the questions on which they are based.


Washington, DC, August 13, 2020 — At 50.2, Ipsos’s consumer confidence index is up 2.7 points over last week to its highest level since early July. However, sentiment is still muted relative to where it was before the pandemic, and 9.9 points below its early March level.

The overall gain in consumer confidence is driven mostly by improved sentiment about today’s economic and investment climate, as both the Current index and the Investment index show gains of more than 4 index points since last week. Despite these gains, the coronavirus’ impact on consumer sentiment is still apparent at a regional level. Sentiment across all sub-indices is highest in the Northeast, which has most successfully controlled the virus so far.

In a significant reversal from last week, Americans are now divided on whether to allow businesses to reopen even if the virus is not contained (48% agree, 48% disagree). Americans remain sharply divided along partisan lines on this question, though more Democrats now favor reopening (30% this week, from 23% last week). Furthermore, a majority of Americans (51%) believe that the economy will recover quickly once restrictions on economic activity are lifted.

Detailed Findings

1. Scoring at 50.2, the latest overall Consumer Confidence index rose 2.7 points from last week.

  • The Confidence index is currently 13.2 points lower than it was at the beginning of the year (63.4), and 9.9 points lower than in early March (60.1).

National Index

2. The Current and Investment sub-indices rose more than 4 points from last week.

  • The Expectations sub-index, indicative of sentiment about the future economic environment, grew a more modest 1.6 points.

3. The Jobs index held steady, though Americans’ views on long-term job security are more mixed. For the first time since March, the number of new weekly unemployment claims fell below 1 million. Experts warn that job losses occurring now are more likely to be permanent than those in the spring.

  • This week, 46% say they, someone in their family, or someone else they know personally lost their job in the last six months as a result of economic conditions, up 1 point from last week.
  • In addition, 56% think that it is at least somewhat likely that this will be the case in the next six months, up from 54% last week and down from 60% in late March.
  • This week, 59% say they feel less confident about job security for themselves, their family, and other people they know, down from 64% the week prior.

Sub-indices

4. This week, Americans show renewed signs of optimism about a quick economic recovery, with a majority (51%) agreeing that the economy will bounce back quickly once coronavirus restrictions are relaxed. Gains across party lines are evident, seen both among Republicans (77% agree, up 12 points) and Democrats (34% agree, up 5 points).

Recover quickly

5. Once again, Americans are divided on reopening businesses if the virus is not contained (48% agree, 48% disagree). Here too, there are signs of growth across both parties, among Republicans (68% agree, up 5 points) and Democrats (30%, up 7 points).

Recover quickly

6. Most Americans remain uncomfortable with making major and other household purchases.

  • Compared to six months ago, 61% say they are less comfortable making a major purchase like a home or a car, down from 67% last week.  

Major Purchase

 

  • Compared to six months ago, 55% say they are less comfortable making other household purchases, down from 61% last week.

Other Purchase

Questions

The data used for the Consumer Confidence index and sub-indices is based on the following questions:

  1. Now, thinking about our economic situation, how would you describe the current economic situation in US? Is it… very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad or very bad?
  2. Rate the current state of the economy in your local area using a scale from 1 to 7, where 7 means a very strong economy today and 1 means a very weak economy.
  3. Looking ahead six months from now, do you expect the economy in your local area to be much stronger, somewhat stronger, about the same, somewhat weaker, or much weaker than it is now?
  4. Rate your current financial situation, using a scale from 1 to 7, where 7 means your personal financial situation is very strong today and 1 means it is very weak
  5. Looking ahead six months from now, do you expect your personal financial situation to be much stronger, somewhat stronger, about the same, somewhat weaker, or much weaker than it is now?
  6. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less comfortable making a major purchase, like a home or car?
  7. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less comfortable making other household purchases?
  8. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less confident about job security for yourself, your family and other people you know personally?
  9. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less confident of your ability to invest in the future, including your ability to save money for your retirement or your children’s education?
  10. Thinking of the last 6 months, have you, someone in your family or someone else you know personally lost their job as a result of economic conditions?
  11. Now look ahead at the next six months. How likely is it that you, someone in your family or someone else you know personally will lose their job in the next six months as a result of economic conditions?

Additional questions

Q. To what extend do you agree with the each of the following

  • The economy will recover quickly once the restrictions to control the coronavirus pandemic are relaxed.
  • We should restart the economy and allow businesses to open even if the virus is still not fully contained.

About the Study

These findings are based on data from an Ipsos survey conducted August 11-12, 2020 with a sample of 936 adults aged 18-74 from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii who were interviewed online in English. The sample was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel, partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=936, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.2 percentage points).

Findings from previous time periods going back to March 2011 are based on data from Refinitiv /Ipsos’ Primary Consumer Sentiment Index (PCSI) collected in a monthly survey on Ipsos’ Global Advisor online survey platform with the same questions. For the PCSI survey, Ipsos interviews a total of 1,000+ U.S. adults aged 18-74. The Refinitiv/Ipsos Primary Consumer Sentiment Index (PCSI), ongoing since 2010, is a monthly survey of consumer attitudes on the current and future state of local economies, personal finance situations, savings and confidence to make large investments. The PCSI metrics reported each month consist of a “Primary Index” based on 10 questions available upon request and of several “sub-indices” each based on a subset of these 10 questions. Those sub-indices include a Current Index, an Expectations Index, an Investment Index and a Jobs Index.

Findings for January 2002- February 2011 are based on data from the RBC CASH Index, a monthly telephone survey of 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older conducted by Ipsos with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S., Public Affairs
Ipsos
+1 202 420 2025
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, U.S., Public Affairs
Ipsos
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected]

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The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs

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