Consumer Sentiment Posts Slight Decline in Early April

Ann Arbor, MI, April 12, 2019-Consumer sentiment fell 1.5% to 96.9 in early April, according to the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers. 

This represents a 1.9% drop year over year. 

“Consumer confidence continued its sideways shuffle in early April, posting an insignificant decline following the small gain recorded last month,” said Survey of Consumer chief economist Richard Curtin. “Overall, the level of the Sentiment Index during the past 30 months was higher than any other time since 1997 to 2000, the final phase of the record 10-year expansion; a record that will be soon overtaken by the current expansion. Interestingly, the impact of the tax reform legislation on consumer confidence has all but disappeared (see the chart). Spontaneous references to the tax reform program were on balance favorable in January 2018 (22% favorable minus 6% unfavorable). Since then, however, unaided references declined sharply so that by early April the net balance was zero (4% favorable minus 4% unfavorable). The data do not imply that consumers were pleased or displeased with the reforms, especially the limitations on SALT deductions. The data do suggest that consumers thought that its stimulative impact on the overall economy has now run its course. What has been of increasing importance to consumers are rising nominal incomes, and low inflation, producing strong gains in inflation adjusted incomes. Unfortunately, vehicle and home buying have not benefitted from low prices, but consumers have increasingly voiced complaints about rising vehicle and home prices, and slight declines in unit sales of both markets are anticipated in 2019.”