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Consumer Reports Index: Retail spending declines, but Americans plan to spend more in April

Consumer Reports Index: Retail spending declines, but Americans plan to spend more in April

Consumer’s outlook continues to take a toll on retail spending, according to the Consumer Reports Index, a monthly overall measure of Americans’ personal financial health. The index’s past-30 day retail measure fell to 9.6 from 9.9 the month before, continuing a decline that started in January.

The next-30-day retail measure, however, saw an uptick in planned spending for major appliances, small appliances, and major yard and garden equipment as consumers prepare for summer. In addition, among larger retail categories, interest in future home buying underwent a meaningful rise from 1.4 percent to 2.4 percent.

The monthly Index comprises five measures: Employment, Retail, Sentiment, Stress, and the Trouble Tracker.

  • The employment measure rose to 50.8 from 49.9, and the proportion of Americans starting a new job outpaced those losing a job, albeit by a narrow margin.

  • Consumer sentiment was unchanged from last month at 50.1. Sentiment has hovered between 51.2 and 48.9 since November 2012.

  • The level of stress consumers felt was also unchanged at 56.5.

  • Financial troubles, which had declined for three straight months, rose to 42.3 from 38.8.

“At best, consumers feel the economy is treading water. They are still holding back on spending, largely due to the uncertainty they feel,” says Ed Farrell, director of consumer insight at the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

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The Consumer Reports Index, a monthly telephone poll of a nationally representative sample of Americans, is conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. A total of 1,007 interviews were completed between April 4-7. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Last month: Americans’ sentiment improved as financial difficulties declined

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