Retail experts have dozens of different metrics by which to judge how well the market is doing, from prices of common products to self-reported revenue figures. However, an increasing percentage of those metrics aren't bringing particularly encouraging news.
On Friday (April 15), the University of Michigan released preliminary April data on its Consumer Sentiment Index, and while the month still has time to recover, the score of 89.7 sits below March's tally of 91.0 and well below the estimated figure of 92.0. Richard Curtin, chief economist behind the Surveys of Consumers, explained that, though this reflects the fourth consecutive month that consumer sentiment has declined, it's not time yet to sound the economic alarm bells.
"None of these declines indicate an impending recession, although concerns have risen about the resilience of consumers in the months ahead," Curtin said in a statement. "Consumers reported a slowdown in expected wage gains, weakening inflation-adjusted income expectations and growing concerns that slowing economic growth would reduce the pace of job creation. These apprehensions should ease as the economy rebounds from its dismal start in the first quarter of 2016."
In a first for the UofM poll, consumers reported depressive effects of the current U.S. presidential race on their opinions of the economy. No questions were asked relating to politics, but Bloomberg reported that 19 percent of respondents "spontaneously" offered their opinions that certain elements of the race did not bode well for the future financial wellbeing of the country.
If there was any consistency to be had, according to the consumers of the survey, it was around inflation rates — 2.7 percent was the agreed-upon number for the upcoming year, just as it was when data from the March report came in.