Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Clouds lift ever more slightly on consumer confidence

March 5, 2010

SHOPPERSCheck out more signs of improving consumer confidence.

According to a study released this week by Discover Financial Services U.S. consumers were getting more comfortable with their budgets.  Also, slightly more consumers now believe they’d have money leftover after paying their bills to have fun with, hinting that consumers won’t be scrimping and saving quite as much.

“After months of cutbacks, we’ve seen two months in a row now in which consumer spending intentions appear to have stabilized,” said Julie Loeger, senior vice president of brand and product management for Discover, in explaining the findings.

That may be one reason why retailers roundly beat February sales expectations and why, by and large, economists and analysts believe the improvements in consumer shopping will continue into the spring. But that could just mean the bleeding is over rather than shoppers are again ready to go hog wild.

Discover warned “there is little sign consumers are planning to increase their spending in the months ahead.” Still, these days, we’ll take good news where we can get it. Job losses in February were smaller than feared, but even there economists said the snowstorms made the month a tough one to read.

Also in the basket:

Tim Horton’s to open 900 new North American restaurants

Ditching designers to sell the clothes (Wall Street Journal)

(Reuters photo)

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