NEW YORK — Consumer confidence was up sharply in January after slipping at the end of last year, the Conference Board said in its latest report.
Nearly 22% of the 5,000 families surveyed said they believe that business conditions will improve during the next six months, up from 20% in December, the business-sponsored research organization said Sunday. It said 29% of those surveyed expect their income to rise over the next six months, up from 27% in November.
The Conference Board said 18% of the people it questioned said they expect employment conditions to improve over the next six months, compared to 16% in December. In addition, the number of people who said they plan to buy a new or used car within the next six months rose to 8.7% in January from 8.1% in December. The organization said the number of people who said they plan to buy a new home rose to 3.1% in January from 2.9% in December.
Confidence Index Rises
The report said 27.2% of the people surveyed in January said they plan to buy major appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and television sets, virtually unchanged from 27.8% in December.
The monthly consumer confidence index jumped to 95.3 in January from 85.9 in December. The rebound took it almost all the way back to the November, 1984, level of 96.8, the Conference Board said. The index uses the average confidence level in 1969-70 as a base equaling 100.
Another Conference Board study, "How Consumers Spend Their Money," to be released today, focused on how much money different groups of Americans spend on 150 products in the categories of food, household supplies and personal and health care. Among its findings:
- Americans are spending a larger share of their food dollars on eating out. More than 32% of the nation's food dollars are spent on restaurant food, up from 28% in 1970 and 17% in 1960.
- Young families are growing in importance to food sellers. People younger than 35 make 31% of all food expenditures, up from 22% a decade ago. But these Baby Boomers will move into the 35-to-44 age bracket in the next decade, and that group will become more important to sellers.
- Beer and ale account for 52% of home alcohol budgets. Two-person households spend about $300 a year on alcohol, single females spend about $100 and single males spend almost $430.