Our financial difficulties and stress levels have declined, and employment numbers have climbed back into positive territory, according to the Consumer Reports Index for November.
The Trouble Tracker Index, one of the five components of the overall index which measures financial difficulties faced by consumers in the past 30 days, has declined for five straight months. It now stands at 49.3, down from 50.5 the prior month, and is greatly improved from one year ago (62.1). In the mean time, the Consumer Reports Stress Index, a measure of the stress consumers feel in their everyday lives versus a year ago, was down in November to 58.5 from 63.2 the prior month, and is also down versus one year ago (60.5).
While the Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index shows spending was up in October (10.9, up from the prior month's 9.9), as Black Friday approaches there are some troubling signs for retailers. The Consumer Reports Next 30-Day Retail Index for November (reflecting planned November activity) is down (8.0) versus a year ago (9.0), led by the soft interest in planned purchasing of personal electronics relative to last year (18.2% versus 24.9%, respectively).
“Consumers are telling us that things are getting better economically. As we enter the holiday season there is evidence consumers are still holding back. Planned purchasing in November of personal electronics, one of the most popular holiday gift categories, is is down significantly from a year ago," said Ed Farrell, a director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
The Consumer Reports Index, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, is a monthly telephone and cell phone poll of a nationally representative probability sample of American adults. A total of 1,259 interviews were completed (1,008 telephone and 251 cell phone) among adults aged 18+. Interviewing took place between October 28 – October 31, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 2.8 points at a 95% confidence level.—Mandy Walker