Consumers' Attitudes Show Improvement
Consumer Reports said that consumer attitudes measured across five of its opinion indexes are significantly higher than they have been.
The publication’s March 2011 edition reports that the publication’s Consumer Sentiment Index, Trouble Tracker Index, Stress Index, Employment Index, and Past 30-Day Retail Index all suggested consumers were shrugging off uncertain international and economic news.
The publication said the improvement in consumer sentiments could have been expected since the Trouble Tracker Index, which measures financial difficulties consumers face, dropped from 58.7 in February to 44.8 in March. The Trouble Tracker Index is now at its lowest level since it was first reported in April 2008, the magazine said.
The Consumer Reports Stress Index, a measure of the stress consumers feel in their everyday lives versus a year ago, is also down slightly in March to 58.7 from 59.3 the prior month, though it is up from the prior year (57.7). The survey results about consumer spending still have not shown the same optimism.
"The March index provides the most encouraging results that we have seen since we started the index more than two years ago," said Ed Farrell, a director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center. "Consumers may be feeling that they are finally makes strides in the right direction." But the publication indicated that the improvements couldn't mask the rise in consumers missing a mortgage payment in the past 30 days. That number is now at 3.1%, up from 2.0% in December.