Consumer Comfort at One-Year Low as U.S. Buying Climate Dims

  • Index tracking spending views drops by most since 2011
  • Personal-finances gauge declines to a three-month low

Consumer confidence fell last week to a one-year low as households’ views on the U.S. buying climate deteriorated by the most since December 2011.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index dropped to 39.6 in the week ended Nov. 29 from 40.9 in the prior period. The decline was the sixth in the last seven weeks and reflected a 2.8 point drop in the measure of whether now is a good or bad time to shop.

The decline is “a troubling sign for the critical holiday-shopping season just under way,” said Gary Langer, president of New York-based Langer Research Associates LLC, which conducts the survey for Bloomberg. Consumers were polled during Thanksgiving week, the traditional start of holiday spending in the U.S., meaning the pickup in pessimism “couldn’t come at a worse time of year.”

The buying climate measure fell to 34.5 last week from 37.3, while a gauge of consumers’ views on personal finances decreased to 53.7, the lowest level since mid-August, from 54.8. The index tracking attitudes about the economy was little changed.

The Bloomberg measure of consumer comfort corroborates the latest index from the University of Michigan, which showed confidence flagged toward the end of November. The group’s final reading of 91.3 for the month was lower than the preliminary print of 93.1. It still showed a gain from 90 in October.

The Bloomberg gauge has dropped 5.6 points since a mid-October reading of 45.2, which was the highest since April.

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