Data Drop: 5 Charts to Explain How Consumer Behavior Is Shifting in an Uncertain Economy

The past six months have been a roller coaster of rising consumer-goods costs, uneven employment news, and increased optimism about the end of the pandemic—all mixed with a tightening of discretionary spending. In September, consumers were cutting back on dining out and entertainment. What are they doing now?

US Consumer Confidence and Outlook Is Mixed

The Conference Board’s April 2023 Consumer Confidence Index—a monthly measure of consumer attitudes, buying intentions, vacation plans, and consumer expectations for inflation, stock prices, and interest rates—ticked slightly up from June 2022. But 61% of US consumers indicated a “high level” of concern versus February at 57%, according to an April 2023 survey from Numerator.

  • The Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation, was up 4.9% from last April, per a May release from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the 4.9% reflects a drop from the June 2022 year-over-year high of 9.1%.
  • Wages have continued to increase, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April 2023 Wage Index .

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