Consumer Confidence Hits the Skids

ARLINGTON, VA.: Times are tough when Americans are so broke they aren’t lining up for the latest iPhone. The Consumer Electronics Association today said that consumer sentiment in the overall economy is at the lowest point ever tracked by the lobby. The CEA generates a monthly Index of Consumer Expectations. The ICE is dropping like a stone in a pond.

The CEA said that its index indicated that consumer confidence in the overall economy dropped for the fifth consecutive month in September, to its lowest level since January 2007, when the group started keeping track. The September ICE hit 156.8, down 2.0 points from August and 6.5 from a year ago.

“Sentiment took another step down in September as deep drops in equity prices stymied any hope of a return of consumer optimism,” said Shawn DuBravac, CEA’s chief economist and director of research. “The ensuing European debt crisis and the news of additional quantitative easing have consumers mired in uncertainty.”

Consumer confidence in technology also fell in September. After strong gains in August the CEA Index of Consumer Technology Expectations, which measures consumer expectations about technology spending, dropped 2.5 points this month to 81.9. The ICE-T is at its lowest level since May 2011, but remains up a point from this time last year.

“CEA’s proprietary sentiment indicators have been very consistent and accurate this year, predicting a decline in the economy well in advance of other metrics,” DuBravac said. “Consumer sentiment has fallen throughout the year as the economic picture has weakened, but a dichotomy continues to exist between consumer sentiment and consumer behavior. While consumers continue to lower their household debt levels and avoid making some large purchases, retail sales and consumer spending have held up. Some segments of consumer tech, like tablet computing, continue to garner consumer dollars.”

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