Consumers in the U.S. were more optimistic in December, a bright sign for retail spending heading into 2014. New reports show that rising employment gains and a surging stock market caused consumers to be more confident about the economy now and in the next six months.
The Conference Board said that its index of consumer confidence rose to 78.1 in December, up from 72 in the previous month. November's figure was revised up from 70.4. Those numbers mean that consumer confidence is nearly back to where it was before the government shutdown in October.
The fact that more consumers are confident about jobs is a positive sign for retailers since consumer confidence drives consumer spending. December's consumer confidence figures take into account holiday spending, which rose 3.5 percent compared with 2012. Last month, too, Americans increased their spending in November by the most in five months, according to government data.
The confidence index averaged 73.3 in 2013, the highest since 2007. While that's above the 45.2 average in 2009, when the economy was in a heavy recession analysts note that the score still trails the reading of 90 that is consistent with a healthy economy.
Holiday Retail Sales Rise 3.5%, Falling Short of Projections
November Retail Sales Beat Estimates, Jump Most In 5 Months
Weaker Holiday Sales Projected, Except for Certain Retailers
NRF Holiday Sales Projections Rise; Shutdown Fears Loom
Amazon Reports Its Best-Ever Holiday Shipping Season