Shoppers carry bags at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets center in Central Valley, New York, U.S. (Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg)

U.S. Consumer Comfort Index Slides as Women Worry About Economy

(Bloomberg) -- Americans’ sentiment fell to a three-month low, led by women and part-time workers whose views on the national economy soured, though they say it’s still a good time to shop, a silver lining during the holiday shopping season.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index declined to 59.4 in the week ended Dec. 9, with a gauge of ratings of the economy also falling to a three-month low. A measure of personal finances dropped to a more than one-month low while the buying climate index was unchanged.

Key Insights

  • The report is the latest signal of weakness as the economy approaches its longest-ever expansion. Analysts expect a deceleration in growth next year, while a few have forecast a recession. It also adds to other evidence of lagging confidence among U.S. consumers and businesses on the outlook, slower job gains, and a widening trade deficit that will weigh on economic growth.
  • The declines in overall comfort and economic views reflected less upbeat sentiment among women, those making less than $50,000, and part-time workers, a group that also saw sentiment slump to a three-month low.
  • Even so, the overall index remains near the highest since 2000, and the gauge measuring buying conditions bodes well for holiday-season retail sales.

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  • Sentiment among both Republicans and Democrats both eased in the period, while independents rose; home owners and renters both felt less confident.
  • Sentiment gained for those 65 and older, full-time workers, and among those in the Midwest and South.

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