Consumer Confidential: Sentiment improves, T-Mobile suffers, No Fear goes bankrupt
-- Consumers are liking what they see, economy-wise. An index of consumer sentiment rose in February to its highest level in three years. According to survey results released by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, the sentiment gauge rose to 77.5 in February — the highest since January of 2008 — from 74.2 in January. Apparently wealthier consumers are the most upbeat. Among households with incomes greater than $75,000, the sentiment index rose 9.7%. However, the index fell 1.4% among lower-income households. Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey, says consumers are increasingly aware of the improving economy and see better job prospects this year. Let's hope.
-- T-Mobile, for its part, isn't feeling all that optimistic. The wireless company says customers hung up on the service in record numbers in the fourth quarter. T-Mobile, the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S., says it lost 318,000 subscribers on contract-based plans in the October to December period. The three larger carriers -- AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel -- added subscribers in the period. T-Mobile blames the decline on increased competition and to revised credit standards for customers. Maybe the company also lacks a gotta-have-it gadget such as the iPhone or the iPad. Just a thought.
-- No Fear ... no funds. The Carlsbad clothing label that became hot with teens for its action-sports duds, is filing for bankruptcy protection. No Fear Chief Executive Mark Simo says the privately held company needs to reorganize its finances and operations due to the weak economy. The company makes motocross, surfing and other action-sports clothes and accessories. It also sponsors motocross, surfing and World Extreme Cagefighting events and athletes. No Fear operates 41 stores in California, Arizona, Nevada and other states. It also has a No Fear energy drink in a venture with Pepsi. The company's stores will remain open while No Fear reorganizes.
-- David Lazarus
Photo: Party on! Consumers are feeling better about the economy. Credit: Tiffany Henschel / For The Times