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Consumer confidence up in November as holiday shopping gets in full swing

NEW YORK — Heading into December, consumers are feeling more confident about the economy and that is good news for retailers who are hoping for a strong holiday shopping season. After declining in October, The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, improved to 56 in November from 40.9 in Ocober. The Present Situation Index increased to 38.3 from 27.1. The Expectations Index rose to 67.8 from 50.

Says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said, "Confidence has bounced back to levels last seen during the summer (July 2011, 59.2). Consumers' assessment of current conditions finally improved, after six months of steady declines.  Consumers' apprehension regarding the short-term outlook for business conditions, jobs and income prospects eased considerably. Consumers appear to be entering the holiday season in better spirits, though overall readings remain historically weak."

According to the survey, consumers are feeling more positive about the economy, with 13.3% saying business conditions are good, compared with 11.2% from the last survey. Those stating business conditions are "bad" declined to 38.2% from 43.7%. The survey also found that consumers are feeling better about the labor market. Those claiming jobs are "plentiful" increased to 5.8% from 3.6%, while those saying jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 42.1% from 46.9%.

Compared with October, consumers in November had a much better attitude toward the next six months.The proportion of consumers anticipating business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 13.6% from 10.2%, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen declined to 15.8% from 21.3%.

Consumers' outlook for the job market also improved. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead rose to 12.9% from 10.8%, while those expecting fewer jobs decreased to 24.1% from 27.6%. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes rose to 14.9% from 11.1 %.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen.