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Canada Counts
A survey of Canadian buying intentions.
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Index rises, but consumers still unsure about future finances and employment PDF Print E-mail
Written by HGO Staff   

OTTAWA (28 October 2010) - Although its Index of Consumer Confidence rose 1.5 points to 79.7 in October, the Conference Board of Canada said a closer examination of its most recent survey shows Canadians are still uneasy about the state of their finances and future job prospects. These could spell continued sluggishness in consumer spending.

However, October's uptick ended a steady drop that saw confidence decline in each of the past four months. The board attributed the gain to the question of its survey dealing with current finances, which outweighed the negativity on the other three questions.

The index was set to 100 in 2002. The board surveyed some 2,000 Canadian adults by telephone in between 07 and 17 October and the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2%.

Regionally, confidence generally increased in unison this month, with only Atlantic Canada registering a decline.

The board noted the share of respondents expressing a positive view of their current finances increased dramatically in October as 17.5% said they had improved over the past six months and that positive responses on this question are now at their highest level since the beginning of the year.

"Responses to the future finances question were less encouraging," the board said, noted that only 22.9% of those surveyed said they expected their financial situation to improve over the next six months - a drop of 1.6 percentage points from September and 10.6 percentage points below where it was at the start of the year.

However, 71.4% of respondent said they expect no improvement over the next half year, which the board said was "the highest level since monthly sampling began nearly nine years ago."

Despite the fact that employment levels have returned to pre-recession levels, consumers are showing little faith in labour market as only 17.8% said they expect employment in the communities to increase over the next six months while 20.% said they expect fewer jobs.

"Thus, the vast majority of consumers continue to believe that labour markets will be weak for some time to come," the board said, "in stark contrast to the actual trend in the Canadian economy, which has seen employment rise by 349,000 jobs over the past year."

Answers to the major purchases question continued to be disheartened with only 41% saying now is a good time to make a major purchase - which includes homes, cars and other big ticket goods such as furniture and appliances.

"Furthermore, the proportion of consumers who said they felt that it was a bad time to make a major purchase rose to 47.9%," the board said, adding, "The balance of opinion on this question has completely reversed since the beginning of the year, when positive responses outweighed negative ones by a significant margin. This trend could indicate weaker consumer spending going forward."

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