Consumer confidence survey says . . .

A businesswoman walks past an H&M clothing store in Chicago

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SCOTT JAGOW: Retailers pay close attention to how shoppers feel this time of year. They want us to be all happy and spending on presents. The University of Michigan boils this down to a number: the consumer sentiment gauge. The latest one comes out this morning. John Dimsdale has a preview.


JOHN DIMSDALE: When the cost of filling up at the gas pump first dropped last spring, relieved consumers went on a shopping spree. But they've become more cautious with the slumping housing market, higher interest rates and gasoline prices on the rise again.

Today's Michigan consumer sentiment survey is the last before the make-or-break holiday shopping season. But economist Jack Albertine with Albertine Enterprises takes the gauge with a grain of salt.

JACK ALBERTINE: The retailers watch this figure very, very closely. I'm not so sure that's well-advised because people are notorious in saying one thing and doing another. They may be a little down in the dumps when the survey is taken, but they still want to buy grandma a gift for Christmas or Hanukah.

Albertine says a strong labor market and low unemployment should give shoppers confidence to spend a bit more on holiday cheer.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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