Officials: Consumer confidence remains high despite November decline

Posted: Updated:

U.S. consumer confidence declined slightly for a fourth consecutive month, but it remains elevated with the holiday shopping season ramping up.

Cindy Jay of Edison says that she has just completed her holiday shopping list – all before Black Friday. And while most New Jerseyans may not be as efficient as Jay, thousands are expected to begin their holiday shopping this weekend.

“I’ll start early and I’ll go up through the last minute,” says Julia Vaccaro of Scotch Plans.

Consumer experts say that more than 165 million people are expected to shop between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday

“[National Retail Federation] is projecting an estimated 114 million, more than 114 million, consumers will shop on Black Friday and that’s still the biggest shopping day out of that entire weekend,” says Katherine Cullen, the senior director for Industry and Consumer Insights at the NRF.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index ticked down to 125.5 in November from October’s 126.1 reading. Consumers’ feelings about the present economic conditions also regressed slightly, but their short-term expectations for the future rose.

Bolstered by a strong labor market and rising wages, consumer confidence has been shaken somewhat by a global slowdown that’s coincided with a drawn out U.S.-China trade war that has hurt American manufacturers and increased economic uncertainty.

There is less time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, leading to a shorter holiday shopping season. Many retailers say that they fear that the shorter season could mean lower sales. But experts have said that those fears are unfounded.

The NRF says people are still expected to spend 4% more than last year.

Consumer confidence is closely watched by economists because spending by those consumers accounts for 70% of economic activity.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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