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When will consumers start feeling better about the future?

Sabri Ben-Achour May 25, 2020
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A reopened Indiana barber shop in mid-May. Consumer confidence may be improving as people begin to return to their usual activities. Scott Olson/Getty Images
COVID-19

When will consumers start feeling better about the future?

Sabri Ben-Achour May 25, 2020
Heard on:
A reopened Indiana barber shop in mid-May. Consumer confidence may be improving as people begin to return to their usual activities. Scott Olson/Getty Images
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The Conference Board’s measure of consumer confidence is out Tuesday. Economists are wondering if — maybe even hoping — there might be some improvement since April’s dramatic declines, now that states are opening back up a bit. 

How do you feel right now, and how do you feel about the future? Those are the two big measures of consumer confidence. Some indicators show that people are starting to feel a little better about the right now, even a little safer.  

“They’re beginning to engage back into society,” said Ashley Kirzinger, an associate director with the Public Opinion and Survey Research team of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. “Now, as states begin to open back up, the public is starting to engage in usual activities like going to get a haircut or going to the doctor.”

That slow increase in confidence aligns with this month’s Michigan consumer sentiment survey.  But, how people feel about the future hasn’t been looking good recently.

“You actually had the forward-looking index continue to decline,” said David Deull, an economist with IHS Markit. “People are realizing the economic damage from this pandemic is going to last.”

Deull said states relaxing rules can only go so far — the ultimate drivers of confidence come down to jobs and what the virus does.

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