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Consumer Confidence Rebounds Slightly in March

Views of the present situation brighten, but expectations are pessimistic.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK – The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased slightly in March, after a decrease in February. The Index now stands at 107.2 (1985=100), up from 105.7 in February. The Present Situation Index based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – improved to 153.0 from 143.0 last month. However, the Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions – declined to 76.6 from 80.8.

“Consumer confidence was up slightly in March after declines in February and January,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The Present Situation Index rose substantially, suggesting economic growth continued into late Q1. Expectations, on the other hand, weakened further with consumers citing rising prices, especially at the gas pump, and the war in Ukraine as factors. Meanwhile, purchasing intentions for big-ticket items like automobiles have softened somewhat over the past few months as expectations for interest rates have risen.”

“Nevertheless, consumer confidence continues to be supported by strong employment growth and thus has been holding up remarkably well despite geopolitical uncertainties and expectations for inflation over the next 12 months reaching 7.9 percent—an all-time high. However, these headwinds are expected to persist in the short term and may potentially dampen confidence as well as cool spending further in the months ahead.”

Present Situation

Consumers’ appraisal of current business conditions improved in March.

  • 19.6% of consumers said business conditions were “good,” up from 17.6%.
  • 22.1% of consumers said business conditions were “bad,” down from 25.1%.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market also improved.

  • 57.2% of consumers said jobs were “plentiful,” up from 53.5%, a new historical high.
  • 9.8% of consumers said jobs are “hard to get,” down from 12.0%.
Expectations Six Months Hence

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term business conditions outlook declined in March.

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  • 18.7% of consumers expect business conditions will improve, down from 21.3%.
  • 23.8% expect business conditions to worsen, up from 19.9%.

Consumers were mixed about the short-term labor market outlook.

  • 17.4% of consumers expect more jobs to be available in the months ahead, down from 19.4%.
  • Conversely, 17.7% anticipate fewer jobs, down from 19.6%.

Consumers were also mixed about their short-term financial prospects.

  • 14.9% of consumers expect their incomes to increase, up from 14.7%.
  • 13.7% expect their incomes will decrease, up from 13.0%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on an online sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Toluna, a technology company that delivers real-time consumer insights and market research through its innovative technology, expertise, and panel of over 36 million consumers. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was March 23.

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