Sorting through the Mixed Signals on Consumers' Post-War Attitudes. (an Illusory Rise?)

By Dolliver, Mark | ADWEEK, May 19, 2003 | Go to article overview

Sorting through the Mixed Signals on Consumers' Post-War Attitudes. (an Illusory Rise?)


Dolliver, Mark, ADWEEK


A post-war economic boom would have been nice, but marketers might have settled for some clarity about consumers' attitudes. We can safely say that consumer confidence went up in March once the war in Iraq began. But was this just a momentary blip or the start of a trend? That's where the story gets murky, though considerable evidence backs the just-a-blip school of thought.

As early as April 30, an ABCNews.com report on the ABCNews/Money Consumer Comfort Index was headlined "Rally Over." The text's opening sentence: "A month-long surge in consumer confidence ended with a sharp snap this week, putting an unceremonious end to hopes of a sustained rally." Just the day before, though, The Conference Board noted that the April rise in its Consumer Confidence Index "may very well signal a turnaround in confidence and a more favorable outlook for consumer spending." Splitting the difference, a report released last week by Ipsos-Public Affairs said its index of consumer sentiment dipped a bit, but still stood well above its March low. Don't take that to the bank, though, because Gallup last week said its polling shows "that the American consumer's assessment of current economic conditions is just as bad as it was in March." The seeming rise in consumer confidence, Gallup suggested, "is more illusory than real. …

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