U.S. consumer sentiment holds steady

Republicans’ high level of optimism shows signs of waning ahead of election

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, October 22, 2020 — Ipsos’ U.S. Consumer Confidence Index holds steady at 51.5, identical to last week. Consumer confidence remains more muted into October from the highs of late September.

Among Republicans, consumer confidence shows signs of wavering, falling to 59.8 (4 points below the average of the past four weeks). In contrast, Democrats (45.4) and Independents (47) show levels of consumer confidence nearly identical to the average of the past four weeks.

The Expectations sub-index has declined 2.3 points from last week to 64.0, reaching its lowest level in two months but still on par with the pandemic average. Here as well, the drop in general optimism mostly reflects expectations from Republicans falling, by 4.7 points to 71.3. Among Democrats and Independents, expectations are on an upward trajectory, rising just shy of 2.0 points each to 58.8 and 60.6, respectively.

Detailed Findings

1. Scoring at 51.5, the latest overall Consumer Confidence Index is exactly on par with last week.

  • The index indicative of overall sentiment is currently 2.3 points above the pandemic average, and 8.6 points lower than where it stood in early March (60.1). 

Consumer Confidence

 

2. At 64.0, the Expectations index hit its lowest point in two months, though it is still holding level with the pandemic average.

3. The Current sub-index rose 1.2 points to 43.3, and the Investment sub-index held steady at 46.4.

4. Jobs confidence reversed declines of last week, rising 1.1 points. New unemployment claims dipped just below 800,000 last week. 

  • This week, 45% report they, a family member, or a personal acquaintance lost their job in the past six months due to economic conditions, down 1 point from last week.
  • In addition, 50% 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, up 2 points from last week.

Sub-indices

5. A majority of Americans (51%) foresee a quick economic recovery once pandemic restrictions are lifted on businesses while 40% disagree. 

Recover quickly

6. This week, the nation is leaning towards restarting the economy if the coronavirus is not fully contained yet: 50% agree that businesses should be allowed to open up again, 41% disagree (down 6 points from last week).

Restart the economy

7. A majority of Americans are uncomfortable with making significant purchases, like a home or a car, or other investments in the household.  

  • Compared to six months ago, 62% say they are less comfortable making a major purchase like a home or a car, consistent with the past two weeks.

Major Purchase

  •  Compared to six months ago, 56% say they are less comfortable making other household purchases, down 3 points from last week, back to nearly the same level as two weeks ago. 

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 extent 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 October 20-21, 2020 with a sample of 928 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 3.7 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=928, 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
Senior Vice President, U.S., Public Affairs
Ipsos
+1 202 420 2025
chris.jackson@ipsos.com

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, U.S., Public Affairs
Ipsos
+1 718 755-8829
kate.silverstein@ipsos.com

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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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