The Commerce Department said Tuesday the Consumer Self-Confidence Index sank to 38.1, an all-time low. The department’s findings show an American consumer who appears to have very little faith in his ability to purchase products.
The Consumer Self-Confidence Survey is taken monthly, with responses coming from a representative sample of 5,000 households. This is the lowest level the index has ever fallen to, following a then-lowest 44.8 in April.
In a statement, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke acknowledged being disappointed in the numbers.
“These findings make it apparent that we are by no means on the upswing in terms of this recession,” he said. “Until people like themselves enough to buy things, businesses are unfortunately in for more economic pain.”
Participants interviewed after taking the survey say they feel differently about their abilities to purchase now than they have for the past several years.
“I used to feel like, ‘I can buy anything,’ you know?'” said Andy Narquell of Overland, Missouri. “Like no amount of debt or financial trouble could stop me. No price tag was too big, no product too large or unnecessary. But now, I don’t know. I just don’t have the same feeling of certainty when I walk in a store, that I can get the job done.”
Shirley Bakely of Allentown, Pennsylvania reported similar feelings.
“I look in the mirror, and I don’t feel inspired, I don’t feel up to the task of being a consumer. I used to be bigger than the products. Now the products are bigger than me.”
Participants responded to the survey between April 2nd and May 15th, and were asked a series of questions, such as, “When you see a blender on sale, do you go towards it or away from it?”