SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence declined modestly this month but remains high, even as prices for just about everything continue to rise.
The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index — which takes into account consumers’ assessment of current conditions and their outlook for the future — ticked down to 110.5 in February from 111.1 in January.
The Conference Board’s present situation index, which measures consumers’ assessment of current business and labor conditions, rose slightly this month to 145.1 from 144.5 in January.
The expectations index, based on consumers’ six-month outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, slipped to 87.5 in February from 88.8 in January.
Concerns about inflation rose in February after declining the previous two months and the proportion of people planning to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances over the next six months all fell, the Conference Board said.
However, consumer confidence remains high in the U.S., despite surging prices for virtually everything. Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that for the 12 months ending in January, inflation hit 7.5% — the fastest year-over-year pace since 1982.
Prices have risen sharply for cars, gas, food and furniture, but so far it has not held back American consumers, who ramped up their spending at retail stores last month. Last week the government reported that retail sales jumped 3.8% from December to January , a much bigger increase than economists had expected. Though inflation helped juice that figure, most of January’s gain reflected more purchases, not higher prices.
The Federal Reserve is expected to begin raising interest rates in March for the first time in three years, the main mechanism for combatting inflation. Many economists say that the Fed is moving too late.