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Holidays have consumers feeling better, still cynical, poll finds

December 13, 2011 | 10:10 am

American consumers seem to be more optimistic this month, causing analysts to hope that better moods will lead to more holiday spending. 

Americans' confidence level for the week ending Dec. 11 is at minus-39 in Gallup’s confidence index, the highest mark since optimism began recovering from a summer slump that began July. The measure averages ratings of current economic conditions and perceptions of whether the domestic economy is improving or deteriorating.

Gallup analysts postulated that the boost may have come from seasonal Christmas cheer along with improving performance on Wall Street earlier in the month and movement among European leaders to address the continent’s fiscal woes.

The U.S. government’s recent announcement that unemployment is down, slipping to 8.6% in November, was also good news. Gallup experts said consumers’ rallying confidence -– which the pollster expects to be reflected in upcoming consumer sentiment reports from Thomson Reuters and the Conference Board -- may compel them to shop more for the holidays.

Overall, though, consumers are still extremely cynical. The Gallup rating is still below the minus-32 recorded the same week a year ago. The measure of current economic conditions peaked at plus-7 in early 2008 before falling into the negative range. 


Consumer confidence is up, survey finds

Americans feel more confident, but should they?

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Customers leave a Target store in Colma, Calif. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg