MORNING CONSULT ECONOMIC INTELLIGENCE

Consumers' Optimism Shows Signs of Weakness This Week

Updated: October 21, 2020
This chart displays the ICS, a measurement of consumer sentiment. Higher numbers indicate greater confidence.

 

Welcome to Morning Consult’s U.S. consumer confidence dashboard, powered by Economic Intelligence. Every week, this page will update with the latest national data and insights from our economic team. Additionally, state-level data and findings will be updated once a month.

Morning Consult surveys around 6,000 U.S. consumers every day on their views regarding current and future personal financial conditions and business conditions in the country as a whole. The results from those survey interviews are inputted into the Morning Consult Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS), which rises as consumer confidence increases. In addition to the ICS, our overall measurement for consumer confidence, Morning Consult uses the responses to track consumer sentiment regarding just the current economic conditions (the ICC) and just expectations for future conditions (the ICE).

This is just a small sliver of the economic data we track around the globe every day. Learn more about Economic Intelligence.

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This week's results are based on around 40,000 survey interviews conducted October 14-20, 2020

WEEK AT A GLANCE

As coronavirus cases rise across the country and following trends seen throughout Europe last week, US consumer confidence decreases slightly this week.

Morning Consult economist John Leer pulled out three key insights from the data this week:

KEY TAKEAWAYS

American consumers grew slightly less confident this week as new confirmed coronavirus cases increased across the country. Morning Consult’s daily U.S. Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) equaled 92.08 as of Oct. 20, down 0.22 points from the prior week. Growth in daily consumer confidence has consistently trended lower over the past six weeks.

Consumers’ growing economic optimism is starting to show signs of weakness. Morning Consult’s daily U.S. Index of Consumer Expectations (ICE) decreased 0.75 points, ending the week at 92.95. The ICE reflects consumers’ political views to a greater extent than Morning Consult’s U.S. Index of Current Conditions (ICC). Going forward, stimulus discussions (as opposed to actual stimulus spending) and election results are more likely to drive the ICE than the ICC. This post has an accompanying chart. View the chart.   

The recovery in confidence has stalled for consumers across the income spectrum. Growth in confidence from 30 days prior is trending toward zero percent for high-, medium- and low-income consumers. This high degree of homogeneity differs from earlier in the summer, when confidence among high-income consumers bounced back more rapidly than it did among the medium- and low-income consumers.  These recent trends indicate that the dynamics driving the K-shaped recovery in May and June are less important now that the dust has settled from the initial economic shock in March. This development does not bode well for retail sales in October. Since the outset of the pandemic, retailers were able to capitalize on relatively strong sales among higher-income customers, who largely kept their jobs, but that pocket of strength has grown weaker since mid-September. This post has an accompanying chart. View the chart.

 

 

NATIONAL TRENDS

This week, both consumers’ expectations and for the future evaluations of current conditions ticked down.

Daily U.S. Consumer Confidence Indices

Reading this data: In order to gauge consumer sentiment, Morning Consult asks five questions relating to personal finances and business conditions in the country as a whole. The results from those five questions are then inputted into these three indices: The ICS is the overall measurement based on the results of all five questions; the ICC reflects consumers’ views of their current personal financial conditions and of current buying conditions for large household goods, and the ICE measures consumers’ expectations of their future personal financial conditions and business conditions in the country as a whole.

 

 

STATE-LEVEL TRACKING

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, consumer confidence has shifted dramatically in all 50 states. However, the precise magnitude and nature of those shifts vary in important ways. This map tracks state-by-state consumer sentiment since the beginning of the year, and it will be updated once a month to reflect the latest data.

Monthly Consumer Confidence Tracking By State
Updated: October 7, 2020

Jan

STATE LEVEL TAKEAWAYS

Consumer confidence improved across the country in September, with 45 of 50 states registering a monthly increase in confidence. The five states experiencing a decrease in confidence were Alaska, Vermont, South Dakota, New Mexico and Iowa.

Despite the monthly increases, consumers across all 50 states remain significantly less confident in the economy in September than they were in January, but the differences across states are still large. Among all states, Hawaii has seen the largest drop in consumer confidence from January to September at 31.9%. By contrast, the ICS in Wyoming is only 14.4% below where it was in January. The remaining states fall somewhere in between, with the 50 states on average experiencing a 20.5% drop from January to September.

State-level consumer confidence provides insight into voters’ views of the economy in key swing states. While the results reflect the views of adults and are not filtered by likely voters, they provide a general sense of the economic mood in these states. In absolute terms, the ICS in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona are all below 100, indicating that a greater share of adults in these states are pessimistic about the economy and their personal finances than they are optimistic. If voters in these states rely on their confidence in the economy to inform their voting decisions and if they believe Trump is responsible for the economic conditions, this data indicates that consumers’ views of the economy are a headwind to the president’s re-election.   

"THIS IS THE FUTURE"

Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi, on Morning Consult Economic Intelligence’s Global Consumer Confidence tracking

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