Consumer confidence dips from 5-year high
On Tuesday, Duolan Li finally purchased a dress she had been eyeing at Hampden Clothing on King Street for a while. Li, who works in marketing for People Matters, said that even though she is optimistic about the future of the economy, she is still conservative with her money and is a bargain shopper.
Americans’ confidence in the economy fell only slightly in July but stayed close to a five-year high. The report shows consumers remain upbeat about the outlook for job growth later this year.
Li and her husband Joshua Walker recently opened a restaurant called Xiao Bao Biscuit on the corner of Spring and Rutledge Streets. She said business is doing well and they are seeing more tourists dine with them even though they are somewhat off the beaten path.
She said she typically shops online because it is cheaper and convenient. Her husband puts most of his money back into the business.
“Our busy schedules prevent us from spending,” Li said. A typical weekend may include staying in and spending time together.
Angie Yates is a real estate agent from Columbia. She and her family spent a few days downtown Charleston this week for vacation. Yesterday they walked out of the Swamp Fox Restaurant and Bar having only spent $14 on lunch for her entire family thanks to coupons.
“The more we save, the more we can do,” Yates said. She said she still would have been able to go on the trip financially without coupons, but having them enables them to do and see more.
She said the real estate business has picked up for her and she is spending more, but still finding ways to save with online restaurant coupon sites.
The Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index dipped to 80.3 in July. That’s down from a reading of 82.1 in June, which was revised slightly higher and the best reading since January 2008.
Despite the slight drop in July, confidence remains well above year-ago levels. And while the hiring outlook for the short-term declined, consumers were more optimistic about the job market’s potential in the coming months.
“Overall, indications are that the economy is strengthening and may even gain some momentum in the months ahead,” said Lynn Franco, an economist for the Conference Board that oversees the consumer confidence survey.
Li said developments on Upper King Street, like hotels and other business, are proof to her that things are getting better.
“Here you see (development) a lot and I think that makes people feel more comfortable,” Li said.
College of Charleston student and web designer for Stuart Lawrence Salon Alex Nadeau said he has always been a modest spender and the uptick in the economy will not change his habits. He is about to start paying back student loans.
“I’m not concerned about making payments because I have a full-time job,” he said of his loans.
The 23-year-old said his parents help him pay his cell phone bill because they are on a family plan and also his car and health insurance. The assistance helps him tremendously, but he has no plans to make any major purchases.
Economists are hopeful that the economy will rebound in the second half of the year as the adverse impact of the tax increases and spending cuts lessen. Many are forecasting a growth rate of around 2.5 percent in the second half of the year.
Revisions to economic growth being released Wednesday could also show stronger growth at the start of the year.
Despite recent gains, consumer confidence remains below the 90 reading that indicates a healthy economy. That level hasn’t been reached since the Great Recession began in December 2007.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or firstname.lastname@example.org.