IRI: First-quarter jump in consumer confidence holding firm over the second quarter

CHICAGO — Consumer confidence was relatively flat in second-quarter 2014 after dramatically increasing in first-quarter 2014, according to IRI’s latest MarketPulse survey released Monday. Sentiment remains consistent for millennials, while it dipped slightly among baby boomers and Generation Xers.
“Even though the economy is gradually rebounding, consumers are cautiously optimistic about their financial health,” stated Susan Viamari, editor, Thought Leadership, IRI. “We are seeing the ranks of those consumers who are experiencing and even expecting economic improvement slowly beginning to rise. Of particular note are millennials, who have suffered more and longer than others, and are reporting that they have been feeling more comfortable for the last two quarters. Time will tell, but, for now, this indicates that the stabilization of the economy is reaching a bit deeper across consumer segments.”
After a significant jump in Q1 2014, confidence is leveling off. Whether this stability continues remains to be seen, but for now, 16% of consumers say they feel “a little better” about their current financial situation compared to 13% in Q2 2011, the first year IRI began conducting the MarketPulse survey. In addition, the skeptics are becoming fewer in number. This quarter, 22% indicate they feel “a little worse” compared to 25% in Q2 2011, and 13% say they feel a “lot worse” in Q2 2014 compared to 15% in Q2 2011. Those who feel “a lot better” remained flat at 3% compared to Q2 2011, while consumers who feel the “same” is 46% in Q2 2014 compared to 43% during the same time period in 2011.
Consumers across the board are expecting their home values, value of investments as well as their ability to save improve in the coming year.“Seeing your nest egg not only stabilize but grow goes a really long way in boosting confidence,” Viamari said. “Consumers are feeling a bit more comfortable about loosening their grip on the purse strings, but they will be very pragmatic about increased spending and splurging.”
IRI’s MarketPulse survey illustrates that cutbacks are still widespread, but the stronghold is easing a bit. 
“A critical takeaway from our latest MarketPulse survey is that, while optimism is emerging, consumers’ continued commitment to find maximum value is as strong as ever,” concluded Viamari. “One-third of consumers tell us that they will continue to shop multiple stores to find the lowest prices.”
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