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

OTTAWA (25 October 2011) - For the fifth time over the past six months the Conference Board of Canada's Index of Consumer Confidence declined over the previous level, declining 3.3 points to 71.8 in October - its lowest level since May 2009.

The index was set to 100 in 2002.

"Although responses did indicate an improved outlook for labour markets, the balance of opinion on the other three questions declined," Todd Crawford, an economist with the Conference Board noted in his commentary.

The board conducted some 2,000 telephone interviews between October 6 and 16 for this month's survey. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.2%.

Crawford said the overall balance of opinion on the current finances question deteriorated for the third consecutive month as only 16.5% of respondents said they were in better shape today than they were six months ago. While that's an uptick of 0.5%, the proportion of those saying their financial situation was worse today than it was six months ago gained 1.2 points to 22.9%.

This negativity was more pronounced on the future finances question with just 19.9% of respondents saying they expect their financial situation to improve over the next six months - a decline of 3.9 percentage points. Those saying they expect their situation to deteriorate rose 1.6 points to 16.6%.

"Currently, the difference between positive and negative responses is at the lowest level since the country was in the midst of the 2008-09 recession," Crawford said.

In what the board said was "somewhat surprising," consumer optimism about future job creation increased. Those saying they expect more jobs in six months' time rose 0.9 points to 15.7% while those with the opposite view fell to 22.9% from the prior month's 25.5%.

"Still, given the recent trend, this month's improvement hardly calls for celebration," Crawford said. "Even with these positive developments, the balance of opinion has now been negative for four consecutive months, after remaining positive for most of 2010 and through the first half of 2011."

Of particular interest to furniture and furnishings retailers, the major purchase question has fallen to its lowest level since early 2009. The share of respondents saying now is a good time to make a major purchase - such as a home, car, major appliance or furniture - fell to 35.9%, a fall of 4.1 points over the prior month.

"Sentiment on this question has deteriorated steadily since the start of the year," Crawford noted.

Regional results diverged in October as Ontario's index dropped 7.7 points to 60.5, due primarily to increased pessimism on the major purchases and future finances questions. British Columbia was also hit hard. The index there fell 7 points to 84.2, more than wiping out last month's gain.

Quebec's index dropped 1.8 points to 66.6, as a more positive outlook on current finances and jobs was more than offset by weakening optimism on the major purchases question. Confidence rose, however, to 97 this month in the Prairie provinces - an improvement of 5.9 points from the September reading. And Atlantic Canada was able to recover most of the ground it lost last month, with a 3.7 point increase to 69.2.

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

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