In short: “The IPSOS Global Consumer Confidence Index measures the consumer spending and future outlook over a certain category and time”.
The consumer confidence index started in 1967 and is benchmarked to 1985 = 100. This year was chosen because it was neither a peak nor a trough. The index is calculated each month on the basis of a household survey of consumers’ opinions on current conditions and future expectations of the economy. Opinions on current conditions make up 40% of the index, with expectations of future conditions comprising the remaining 60%. In the glossary on its website, The Conference Board defines the Consumer Confidence Survey as “a monthly report detailing consumer attitudes and buying intentions, with data available by age, income and region”.
Increased consumer confidence indicates economic growth in which consumers are spending money, indicating higher consumption. Decreasing consumer confidence implies slowing economic growth, and so consumers are likely to decrease their spending. The idea is that the more confident people feel about the economy and their jobs and incomes, the more likely they are to make purchases. Declining consumer confidence is a sign of slowing economic growth and may indicate that the economy is headed into trouble.
Each month The Conference Board surveys 5,000 US households. The survey consists of five questions that ask the respondents’ opinions about the following:
- Current business conditions
- Business conditions for the next six months
- Current employment conditions
- Employment conditions for the next six months
- Total family income for the next six months
Survey participants are asked to answer each question as “positive”, “negative” or “neutral.” The preliminary results from the consumer confidence survey are released on the last Tuesday of each month at 10am EST.
Once the data have been gathered, a proportion known as the “relative value” is calculated for each question separately. Each question’s positive responses are divided by the sum of its positive and negative responses. The relative value for each question is then compared against each relative value from 1985. This comparison of the relative values results in an “index value” for each question.
The index values for all five questions are then averaged together to form the consumer confidence index; the average of index values for questions one and three form the present situation index, and the average of index values for questions two, four and five form the expectations index. The data are calculated for the United States as a whole and for each of the country’s nine census regions.