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LEXINGTON, Mass. -- Here's some news sure to make convenience store retailers a bit more jolly this holiday season: Consumer confidence is dramatically on the rise.
The November "Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index," compiled by IHS Global Insight, surged 15.1 points or 36.9 percent compared to October 2011. The point increase was the highest month-over-month gain since April 2003, while the percentage increase was the largest the index has seen since April 2009.
One main reason for the enhanced consumer optimism is the job market. Although job creation is perhaps not booming, IHS' labor index, which measures the percentage of respondents who believe "jobs are plentiful" minus the percentage who think "jobs are hard to get," advanced seven points in November, compared to last month.
According to IHS, consumer optimism also increased due to the slight U.S. unemployment rate decline to 9.0 percent in October, as well as lower gasoline prices, which have backed off their mid-May peak average of $4 per gallon.
IHS predicts the improved consumer confidence will equal more ringing at cash registers. The research firm expects e-commerce retail sales to reach close to $60 billion in the fourth quarter. Holiday sales should grow 4.2 percent this year. Although that same figure rose 5.2 percent during the same time in 2010, IHS said the 2011 increase is definitely a positive number.
"This is a relatively good report, especially at this time of year," said Chris G. Christopher Jr., senior principal economist at IHS. "The Black Friday-Cyber Monday shopping spree was well received this year. The boost in consumer mood helps holiday sales, and retailers need all the help they can get."