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Confidence falls to 2-year low PDF Print E-mail
Written by HGO Staff   

OTTAWA (25 August 2011) - The Conference Board of Canada has reported that its Index of Consumer Confidence fell to its lowest point in two years this month as Canadians continue to express concerns about the future of job creation and household finances.

The private think tank reported the index fell 6.6 points in August to 74.7 - its lowest point since July 2009. The index was set to 100 in 2002.

"The index has declined for four months, but this is the first really substantial month-to-month decline. Clearly the uncertainty is weighing heavily on Canadian consumers," Pedro Antunes, director of the board's national and provincial forecast, said in a statement. "Negativity towards future job creation and an unwillingness to make a major purchase were the primary signs of this waning consumer confidence."

Pessimism was also higher on responses to questions about current and future household finances. Sentiment on current finances reversed course in August after two months of slight improvement.

"This lack of confidence continues to prove worrisome for consumer spending in Canada, as negative responses have outnumbered positive answers since late 2008," the board said, adding, sentiment concerning future finances fared even worse - in August, just 23.1% of respondents indicated than they expect their financial situation to improve over the next six months, down 3.4 percentage points from July.

The balance of opinion on future employment fell for a third consecutive time in August. Only 16.2% of respondents said they expected more jobs in their community in six months, its lowest level since the summer of 2009.

Retailers should also note consumers are at their most pessimistic since April 2009 about whether it is good or a bad time to make a major purchase. "A majority (50.2%) of respondents said that now was a bad time to make a major purchase," the board said.

Only British Columbia avoided a decline in confidence in August, as the provincial index rose 1.1 points. The index in Atlantic Canada fell by 12 points, erasing all the gains that the region made in July. Confidence in the Prairies fell eight points, although it retains the highest confidence in the country at 90.5. Confidence among Ontario consumers fell 4.3 points to 67.8. The sharpest decline occurred in Quebec, which fell 12.7 points to 67.1, the lowest level among Canada's regions.

This month's survey of some 2,000 individuals was conducted by telephone between August 4 and 14. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.2%.

For more information, visit the Conference Board of Canada web site at www.conferenceboard.ca

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