3 Economic Indicators Signal Less Growth in Consumer Spending and the Economy

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The Conference BoardÂ?s Index of Leading Economic Indicators and Consumer Confidence Index reflect weakness similar to the latest Affluent Consumer Expectation (ACE) Index of The American Affluence Research Center

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index declined for the fourth month in a row to an eight-month low in November and its Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell in October for the fifth straight month.

Consistent with these Conference Board indicators, the latest survey by The American Affluence Research Center found that the wealthiest 10% of Americans, who represent almost half of all consumer spending and a third of the total US economy, expressed declining optimism in their 12 month outlook.

While a small majority of the wealthiest 11 million households remain optimistic about current and future business conditions, an increasing percentage is showing concern about business conditions, the stock market, and their own personal household income 12 months from now. The overall ACE index that averages the outlook for these three factors continued a decline that began 6 months ago and is now back to the Fall 2002 level, the record low for these semi-annual surveys.

Against this backdrop, the wealthy are displaying mixed signals about their future spending plans. With the exception of new automobiles, their plans for major purchases such as homes, boats, home remodeling, and cruises remain relatively strong. As in prior surveys, the wealthiest 1% and wealthiest 5% of Americans are the most optimistic in their economic outlook and are more likely to plan increased spending.

Spending plans for the next 12 months are also tracked for 17 categories of goods and services, including 4 home durables (major appliances, computers, furniture/furnishings, and entertainment equipment), 4 leisure activities (casual and upscale dining out, entertainment, and recreation), domestic and international travel, designer and non-designer apparel, collectibles, fine jewelry, and political and charitable contributions.

Of the 17 future spending indexes, 11 are lower now than one year ago, two are the same, and four are higher. Nine indexes are at negative levels. Planned spending for international vacation travel is at a positive level for the first time since the surveys began, while planned spending for major appliances is at its lowest level ever.

Additional highlights from the national survey of 412 men and women in the wealthiest 10% of American households can be found on the AARC website, http://www.affluenceresearch.org. The survey participants have an average income of $329,000 and an average net worth of almost $3 million. They control 70% of the private wealth in the U.S.

The complete 35-page report containing 35 tables is available for $295 from AARC and may be ordered by contacting the company at 305-933-4887 or info@affluenceresearch.org. The report with a complete set of data tables is available for $595. Contact AARC for press copies.

The AARC is a marketing research and consulting company that focuses on the values, lifestyles, attitudes, and purchasing behavior of the most affluent segments of the population.

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