RBC Consumer Outlook: Consumers Down on Economy, More Bullish on Personal Finance

While most Americans believe their local economy isn’t going anywhere in a hurry, there are signs of growing confidence with regard to consumers’ personal financial situations. That’s according to the monthly RBC Consumer Outlook Index.

April 8, 2010
By Allison Landa, News Editor

While most Americans believe their local economy isn’t going anywhere in a hurry, there are signs of growing confidence with regard to consumers’ personal financial situations. That’s according to the monthly RBC Consumer Outlook Index, which finds that 82 percent of Americans believe their local economy will stay the same or weaken within the next six months, but that 51 percent of those people are now feeling optimistic about their own financial house.

The Index, which is based on a representative nationwide sample of 1,007 U.S. adults polled from Apr. 1-5, 2010 by the Ipsos research firm, is a new monthly survey. Going forward, it will include comparisons and analysis with regard to significant consumer behavioral and attitudinal shifts, as well as regional behaviors.

“We strongly believe this first look at what consumers are thinking now will be of tremendous value to those looking for insightful and predictive market analysis,” RBC Capital Markets co-head of global research Marc Harris said while announcing the results of the survey. “We think that investors will tune in for the data, talk about it and trade on it.”

The Index also found that consumers are feeling better about their spending cash, with 42 percent of those surveyed in April expressing a positive outlook as opposed to 36 percent in March, according to March benchmark data. While 46 percent of consumers believe interest rates will increase over the next six months, they were split over whether now is a good time to buy real estate. Thirty-four percent indicated that now is a good time to buy, while 36 percent said it is now.

Similarly, consumers were divided over market investments. Twenty percent believe it is a good time to invest, while 28 percent said it was a bad time to do so and another 52 percent said that they were uncertain. However, according to benchmark data from March, this is an improvement as a month ago 38 percent of consumers said it was a bad time to invest. As for confidence in job security for themselves, their family, or others they know personally, only 13 percent expressed higher confidence, 41 percent said they were less confident, and 42 percent said their confidence level had not changed. This too was an improvement from March benchmark data, which showed 49 percent were less confident.

The Index is released within 36 hours after U.S. online panel members are interviewed, with weighting employed to balance demographics.