Clientbook Blog
July 8, 2024

Everything retailers need to know about the consumer confidence index

What is the current economic situation for people all across the United States? Do they have concerns about inflation or is there a surge in consumer optimism that will lead to a good year for retailers? The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) provides data that answers these questions and many more.

From a retailer perspective, the CCI offers insight into current business conditions and how consumer attitudes are likely to change as time goes by. This helps you strategize about product choice, inventory levels, marketing options, and more. Paying attention to this survey might play a vital role in the financial health of your business.

What is consumer confidence and how is it measured?

The name of the report that the United States puts out every month is rather self-explanatory. It measures and tracks how confident everyday consumers are about the state of the economy. However, that basic definition doesn’t do enough to explain the intricacies of the data found within or why it matters to retailers. It uses a variety of economic indicators to reveal the current state and future expectations for spending.

Various factors influence consumer attitudes toward current conditions

It’s impossible to list every factor that goes into a positive or negative outlook for the future economy from a consumer perspective. People have their own unique situations to consider. However, there are some standard issues that help people form their answers for this survey about spending and financial confidence.

Inflation expectations and employment levels top the list of potential problems. While larger scale things like the stock market performance may be a factor, personal challenges like consumer debt levels seem to matter more. Other factors include political stability, interest rates, changes in income limits, and how effective the media coverage is about either scaring or assuring consumers that they’ll get through financial challenges successfully.

The consumer confidence survey asks the people who matter

Rather than looking at large-scale economic factors or just studying the stock market and other investments, this survey is an actual measure of consumer confidence. Every month, the respected information analytics firm Nielsen gathers data collected from everyday people. Their consumer views answer five questions about the present and expectations down the road. A total of 3000 surveys are sent out every month. The CCI has existed since the late 1960s.

Retailers should pay attention to the consumer confidence index report

When your business depends on the willingness of people to spend money on extraneous wants or luxury items, you need to understand the economic situation affecting their buying decisions. Even more importantly, you need to know consumer attitudes that can affect how willing they are to open their wallets and make bigger purchases. These trends in consumer confidence affect many aspects of a retail business.

When CCI gets higher, people are more likely to spend more money. Preparing for this with increased inventory levels or clever marketing that includes immediate impetus to buy, like sales or special events, makes sense. You might even have to hire a few more sales associates in these periods. Retailers can anticipate periods of stronger consumer demand and profit from them only if they are ready.

The opposite holds true when the consumer confidence survey shows a downturn in attitudes and economic situations. Retail purchases become less likely, and marketing becomes more challenging. Shops and ecommerce brands may want to shift their focus to lower priced goods or a period of restructuring for a brighter future.

Confidence finally improves after a period of financial concerns

The latest CCI shows a slight upturn in consumer sentiment after a few months of falling numbers. Using their own unique scoring system for the five questions, the index is considered healthy if it comes in over 100. May 2024 shows the first 100+ in a few months. Although consumer attitudes improved overall, they still reflected hesitation and concern.

The number of people saying business conditions are good rose slightly. The labor market questions revealed a slightly less enthusiastic response with fewer saying jobs were plentiful. Fewer also said they were hard to get. Short-term prospects in business, labor, and income all improved slightly, too, although family finances took a small hit.

What does this all mean for retailers? These numbers alone obviously shouldn’t inform any grand business decisions. The moment a confidence point drops 1%, it doesn’t mean you should run a big sale or restructure your marketing campaigns. Instead, the CCI offers insights into how things change over time.

How retailers should respond to consumer sentiment

Adjust strategies to align with current consumer attitudes. However, resist the urge to make large scale changes based on limited information. In the end, the Consumer Confidence Index that comes out every month is less important than the data you gather about your specific target audience. Consumer buying patterns in your store and online reveal more about the flux and flow of profitability and brand success than a countrywide survey.

During higher consumer confidence times, consider the following changes:

  • Increase inventory, especially of higher-end items so you can upsell successfully.
  • Create more aggressive marketing campaigns to expand brand reach to new markets.
  • Expand product lines and services. This is the time to try new things.
  • Enhance the overall customer experience with in-store and digital events, personalized service, and new programs.

When the financial situation and consumer expectations drop, switch focus:

  • Optimize inventory by stocking quick-sell items and offering lower cost alternatives without compromising upsell or cross-sell options.
  • Consider sales, special discounts, and loyalty programs more frequently.
  • Use experiential marketing to increase value for new and existing customers who expect more than a simple product.
  • Offer more flexible return or payment policies whenever possible.


Although the Consumer Confidence Index survey can help retailers like you track current attitudes and expectations, it’s not personalized enough for your brand to make a real day-to-day difference. You need the power of a complete system like Clientbook to collect and analyze data from your audience. The more precise and personalized the information you use is, the more likely you are to satisfy the unique needs and interests of your consumer audience. Book a demo today to see for yourself.

Continue reading