U.S. consumer confidence holds stable after recent declines

Americans in a holding pattern as more is uncovered about the Omicron variant

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist
  • Neil Lloyd Senior Research Analyst, Public Affairs
  • James Diamond Senior Research Manager, Public Affairs
  • Hailey Foster Research Analyst, Public Affairs
  • Rhett Laffoon Senior Research Analyst, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, December 20, 2021 – This week’s Ipsos-Forbes Advisor U.S. Consumer Confidence Tracker finds consumer confidence remains stable after a decline two weeks ago in response to the discovery of the Omicron variant. Most sub-indices remain stable as well, with a net gain or loss of less than one point. However, with inflation continuing to rise and Omicron stoking renewed concerns over the state of the pandemic, the largest decline (of 1.8 points) is in the Expectations sub-index, which measures Americans’ outlook on their personal finances and local economy.

Comfort with making major household purchases bounces back after a slight downturn two weeks ago, while comfort making other household purchases remains stable. Compared to one month ago, fewer are spending ‘more than usual’ and more say they are investing or saving money, borrowing money or using credit, and drawing from their savings ‘less than usual’.

Detailed Findings

1. Scoring at 55.1, the latest Overall Consumer Confidence is mostly unchanged compared to two weeks ago — down 0.8 points.

  • The Overall Confidence Index is currently 1.4 points above the pandemic average, and 5 points below where it stood in early March 2020, prior to the first lockdowns (60.1).

2. The Current and Investment sub-index are also stable compared to two weeks, down 0.8 and 0.4 points, respectively. Both hold at or above the pandemic average. Meanwhile, the Expectations sub-index has fallen 1.8 points from two weeks ago.

3. Americans sentiment on job security remains relatively stable, with the overall Jobs sub-index rising just 0.4 points. It continues to remain stronger than both its 20-year average and its pandemic average by 8 points.

  • The proportion of Americans who say they are more confident in their job security now compared to 6 months ago is at 56%, down 1 point from two weeks ago.
  • The proportion of Americans reporting they, a family member, or a personal acquaintance lost their job in the past six months due to economic conditions is at 29%, down 2 points from two weeks ago.
  • In addition, 36% say it’s likely they, a family member, or a personal acquaintance will lose their job in the next six months due to economic conditions, unchanged from two weeks ago.

4. Roughly one in five say they are drawing from their savings more than usual (22%), spending money more than usual (18%) and borrowing money or using credit more than usual (18%).

  • However, more Americans report doing each of these less than usual and about half say they do each of them as much as usual (47%, 55%, and 45%, respectively).

5. Compared to four weeks ago, we see a consistent trend upward in the percentages saying they are investing or saving money, borrowing money or using credit, and drawing from their savings less than usual.

6. Comfort with making major purchases relative to six months ago increases, while comfort making other household purchases is relatively stable.

  • 46% say they are more comfortable making major household purchases compared to six months ago, up 3 points from two weeks prior.

  • 48% say they are more comfortable making other household purchases compared to six months ago, down 1 point from two weeks earlier.

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. In the past few months, have you done each of the following more than, less than, or as much as you usually do?

  • Draw from your savings
  • Spend money
  • Borrow money or use credit
  • Invest or save money
  • Pay off your credit/loans

About the Study                                                            

These findings are based on data from an Ipsos survey conducted December 14-15, 2021 with a sample of 939 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. For n=964, DEFF=1.5 and adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.1 percentage points.

Findings from March 2010 to early March 2020 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

Senior Vice President, US

Public Affairs

+1 202 420 2025

[email protected]

Kate Silverstein

Media Relations Specialist, US

Public Affairs

+1 718 755 8829

[email protected]  

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist
  • Neil Lloyd Senior Research Analyst, Public Affairs
  • James Diamond Senior Research Manager, Public Affairs
  • Hailey Foster Research Analyst, Public Affairs
  • Rhett Laffoon Senior Research Analyst, Public Affairs

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