Consumer confidence fell to a six-month low, according to the RBC Consumer Outlook Index. RBC reported Thursday, September 2, that the monthly index measured 45.9 in August, down from 63.9. The reason for the freefall, according to RBC, is fear over job security and generally low expectations for the economy.
One-third of Americans are worried about losing their jobs, according to a release from RBC which included data from the Index and an Ipsos poll conducted August 26-30, and 47% say they know someone who lost their job as a result of economic conditions. Businesses are generally viewed as less stable than they were a year ago. Almost half of consumers think retail stores are getting weaker, and 43% say restaurants are weaker. Consumers are still wary of banks’ strength, with 44% reporting low confidence in Wall Street banks, and 38% saying community banks are weaker.
The housing and construction sectors haven’t fared any better. According to the RBC release, 40% of consumers expect home prices in their neighborhood to fall in the next 12 months, compared with 31% in August. Almost 60% of consumers said the construction and homebuilder sector is weaker than it was a year ago.
Despite these fears, Americans are confident about their own financial futures. Twenty-seven percent of consumers feel their financial situation will improve in the next six months, while 21% feel it will be weaker. Almost one-quarter expect their debt levels to fall, up from 21% in August.
Consumers are still wary about investing in stocks, however. Over 40% said now was a bad time for equities. Forty-five percent say the economy will get worse in the next quarter, and 59% say they local economy is weak.
Read about how the financial reform bill affected consumers’ confidence in a story from the archives at InvestmentAdvisor.com.