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    Consumer Confidence Hits New Low

    The index stands at 37.7, the lowest level in more than 40 years.

    NEW YORK -- Despite hopes that a new year and administration would bring a close to the economic downturn, it seems consumers are not feeling any more optimistic now than at the end of 2008.

    A report released Tuesday showed the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index dipped to a record-low of 37.7, down from 38.6 in December, making this the lowest level of consumer confidence in more than 40 years.

    This survey, a cross-section of 5,000 households nationwide, also found the Present Situation Index -- which tracks consumers’ feelings about the current economy -- and the Expectation Index -- which measures shoppers’ optimism for the future economy -- have both fallen this month to 29.9, from 30.2, and 43.0, from 44.2, respectively.

    Convenience Store News’ 2009 Forecast Study predicted this recession will be deeper and longer than the last two business downturns and will have a dramatic impact on the convenience store industry. The study projects that the recession will last into the first quarter of 2010, with consumers driving less and buying conservatively.

    However, the Forecast Study also shows good news: while the industry may take it hit, it is likely to fare better than other retail channels because convenience store products are deemed necessities by consumers.

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