Bloomberg’s weekly consumer comfort data released this morning at 61.3. Consumer comfort is still very close to cycle highs (61.6), but over the past couple of months—during the time markets have been selling off—it hasn’t not been steadily moving higher as it did for most of the year, instead staying within a range of 59 to 61. This slowing is by no means a negative sign seeing as the level is still so strong. Given the equity market’s recent price action, it may simply be the wealth effect dampening.
Breaking comfort levels down by demographic, the same trends still seem to be in place. Most readings are still in high percentiles compared to history, meaning comfort is still high across the board. Those with lower income and education levels unsurprisingly remain at the bottom, while higher-income individuals sit at the top. Also near the bottom of the group is Democrats, which as we have highlighted in the past is normal for the out of power party. On that note, the reading is still higher for both Republicans and Democrats since the election likely due to both sides perceiving wins.
Geographically, there was a big drop in comfort in the Northeast. These demographics are some of the more volatile ones though—as you can see in the chart below—so it is not necessarily a bad sign. The Northeast especially has seen many of these huge drops throughout the history of the survey. There was an even larger fall only a few months ago. In other words, while Northeast comfort may seem bad, with its level being one of the lowest demographics in regards to its percentile, it should not raise any red flags, and we could very easily expect this low comfort level to turn around.