retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that The Conference Board’s November consumer confidence index reached 73.7, up from a revised 73.1 in October, and higher than the 73 that the research group had been projecting.

According to the Bloomberg story, "The report showed the share of Americans planning to buy a house rose to a record high, indicating improving property values and a job market recovery are making households more willing to make long-term commitments. Sustained gains in consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, may help overcome concern over the fiscal cliff of tax increases and government spending cuts slated for early 2013."

The Associated Press story notes that "both are the best readings since February 2008. The index is still below the level of 90 that is consistent with a healthy economy. It last reached that point in December 2007, the first month of the Great Recession. But the index has increased from the all-time low of 25.3 touched in February 2009.

"Higher consumer confidence could translate into a more robust holiday shopping season and stronger economic growth. Consumer spending drives nearly 70 percent of economic activity. The report also supported the findings of a separate survey from the University of Michigan released last week, which showed consumer sentiment at a five-year high. Still, both surveys increased at slower rates than the previous month."
KC's View:
It always seems to me that consumer confidence is like a house of cards. A good stiff breeze can knock the whole damned thing over.

That said, the general consensus seems to be that, especially if Congress and the White House can come to some sort of agreement on fiscal policy, we're in for a time of slow but persistent growth.

We can only hope.