A person returns a shopping basket while checking out a store. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

U.S. Consumer Comfort Drops to an 11-Week Low on Buying Climate

(Bloomberg) -- Americans’ confidence declined for the fifth time in six weeks as the impact of two major hurricanes continued to weigh on consumer attitudes in the affected regions, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended Oct. 8)

  • Consumer comfort index eased to an 11-week low of 49.5 from 49.9
  • Index of buying climate declined to 40.8, the lowest since January, from 41.5
  • Measure of personal finances fell to 56 from 57.1, the weakest level since February
  • Gauge of current views on the economy rose to 51.6 from 50.9

Key Takeaway

The index has lost half the gains it made from early July through late August, when Hurricane Harvey started to batter the Gulf Coast of Texas. Gasoline prices surged as refineries closed, and some homes and businesses were destroyed, leading to a deterioration in sentiment about personal finances and the buying climate. Both are at their lowest levels since early this year.

Consumer comfort in the South fell for a fifth straight week, the longest such streak in more than a year. As Texas residents recover from Harvey and Floridians rebuild from Hurricane Irma, sentiment may start to stabilize, especially if gas prices continue to head lower after an early-September spike. What’s more, the measure of Americans’ views of the economy has been the strongest of the three sub-indexes as stocks remain near all-time highs.

Other Details

  • The partisan gap expanded for the second straight week, favoring Republicans by 16.5 points
  • Index rose for those making less than $25,000; other income groups registered a decline in comfort
  • Sentiment fell among men and increased among women