Consumer Sentiment Inched Down in July

Ann Arbor, MI, July 27, 2018-July consumer sentiment fell 0.3% to 97.9 from June’s 98.2 rate, according to final results from the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers.

This represents a 4.8% increase year over year.

“Consumer sentiment posted a trivial 0.3 point one-month decline, remaining a half of an Index-point or less from the average in the prior twelve months (97.7) or since the start of 2017 (97.4),” says Survey of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin. “Despite the expectation of higher inflation and higher interest rates during the year ahead, consumers have kept their confidence at high levels due to favorable job and income prospects. This mix of positive and negative expectations is similar to past expansions, and, as in the past, it will prevail as long as increases in inflation and interest rate hikes remain modest. What is unique about the current situation is the potential impact of tariffs on the domestic economy. Concerns about tariffs greatly accelerated in the July survey. Across all households, 35% spontaneously mentioned that the tariffs would have a negative economic impact in July, up from 21% in June and 15% in May. Consumers who had negative concerns about the tariffs voiced a much more pessimistic economic outlook, had inflation expectations that were 0.6 percentage points higher than those who hadn't mentioned tariffs, and were more likely to anticipate that the unemployment rate would rise during the year ahead. Of course, these negative economic expectations could quickly disappear if the trade issues with Europe are promptly settled and immediately followed by agreements with China, Canada, and Mexico. Resolution is critical to forestall decreases in consumer discretionary spending as a precaution against a worsening economy.”