Consumer Confidence Up as People Shop, Vacation

Falling gasoline prices and a dip in the inflation rate put consumers in a slightly better mood this month while helping a private sector gauge of optimism snap a three-month losing streak.

This, as the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index saw a boost in August to 103.2 from 95.3 in July, as people increased purchasing and booked summer travel and vacations, Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a press release .

After falling for three straight months, the Present Situation Index notched its first advance since March, Franco said, while the Expectations portion of the index gained from a nine-year low set in July.

“Concerns about inflation continued their retreat but remained elevated,” Franco said, noting that risks from inflation and additional rate hikes could still hinder growth in the future.

The improvement in confidence coincides with the latest paycheck-to-paycheck report from PYMNTS that saw the number of consumers living on this tight monthly lifestyle pull back slightly from record highs set in July, a move that reflected some relief but also that inflation is still putting a squeeze on their savings.

Read more: Savings Not Enough to Blunt Paycheck-to-Paycheck Pressures

More and more people are living paycheck to paycheck — PYMNTS estimates around 60% of consumers. So people have little left over after meeting basic expenses. Almost half of US consumers have seen at least one unexpected expense in the past 90 days. Fifty-six percent of emergency expenses cost over $400, with the average emergency expense being around $1,400.

It’s a reversal from the beginning of the pandemic, which saw many people boosting their savings with stimulus checks and just from the fact that there was less to spend money on as everything was closed down.

PYMNTS noted that those living paycheck to paycheck aren’t just lower income — the number of more affluent customers living that way is also up in the past year.

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https://www.pymnts.com/consumer-finance/2022/consumers-pulled-back-on-grocery-purchasing-in-july/partial/

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