NATIONAL CONSUMER CONFIDENCE PLUMMETS – AND SOUTHEAST CONFIDENCE SINKS DEEPER
OUTLOOK FALLS TO ALL-TIME LOW SINCE 2002 INDEX LAUNCH
RALEIGH, N.C. – Jan. 7, 2009 – With the implosion of Wall Street, the potential collapse of several Detroit automakers and escalating job-loss numbers, it’s not surprising that American consumers have a bleak attitude about their economic conditions and prospects. However, Southeastern attitudes, which are typically more positive than the rest of the nation, fell more than ever and now rest below the national average, according to the RBC Southeastern CASH Index (Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household) commissioned by RBC Bank.
A year ago, the overall RBC CASH Index for the Southeast rested at 79.9, still slightly above the national average of 75.8. At the end of 2008, the CASH Index stands at 24.8 – compared to 31.0 seen nationwide. This represents the lowest consumer confidence level over a six-month period since the RBC CASH Index launched in January 2002. The RBC CASH Index is benchmarked against a baseline score of 100, assigned when the Index was introduced.
The most significant drop in the Southeast is around perceptions of current conditions, which stands at 24.0, down from 102.1 a year ago. There was also a downturn in positive evaluations of expectations for the future, decreasing from 23.8 for the second half of 2007 to -1.2 for the second half of 2008.
“It’s surprising to see the Southeast’s consumer confidence fall below the national average, since Southeasterners typically have a more positive attitude toward the economy than the rest of the nation,” said Joseph Keating, head of Private Asset Management for RBC Bank. “Entering a recession certainly plays a part in explaining recent confidence trends overall, as well as less confident perceptions about the future.”
Other RBC Southeastern CASH Index findings include:
“There’s no doubt that there are significant fluctuations in consumer opinions across the Southeast, and we will continue to monitor the short- and long-term effects of the change in confidence,” said Scott Custer, RBC Bank chairman and CEO. “However, we know the Southeast is a great place to do business, and we’re committed to helping our clients work through their uncertainties by continuing to show the strength and stability of a century-long financial institution.”
The RBC CASH Index is a composite measure of national consumer attitudes toward the state of local economies, personal financial situations, savings and investment, and job security. The recent six-month analysis includes a focused look at the Southeast where RBC Bank serves clients through its retail and commercial banking network.
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