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For consumers, gloomy times may translate to less spending

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The Consumer Confidence Index helps provide a picture of how people feel about the economy. Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

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There is SO much going on in the world right now, much of it disturbing: severe weather and climate change, the delta variant, crises overseas.

And consumers are feeling the stress, with a wide range of consumer-confidence measures falling over the last month. We’ll get the latest take from the Conference Board later this morning, and it’s expected to be down, too.

A late summer of surging COVID cases, renewed mask-mandates, indoor-dining and outdoor-gathering restrictions have left many Americans in a variety of states, said Chris Jackson at the polling firm Ipsos.

“Confused and buffeted and not-cheerful is a pretty good way to describe American consumers,” Jackson said, adding that consumers are pulling back somewhat on travel, dining out, socializing. 

Richard Curtin at the University of Michigan said with a lot of prices rising, many consumers feel that “living standards have been eroded. This is very common among those 65 or older, those with a high school education or less.” And, the lowest income-earners.  

Jackson said one bright spot is that people who are working feel fairly optimistic about their job status.

“We’re not seeing large numbers of people reporting that they’re losing their jobs,” he said, adding that as long as that continues, consumer spending is unlikely to fall hard, the way it did at the beginning of the pandemic. 

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