Bloomberg reports that:
Confidence among U.S. consumers rose this month to the highest level since September, reinforcing signs that the worst recession in half a century is abating.
“Consumers are looking at things like the rise in stocks, they are listening to reports talking abut ‘green shoots’ and they believe it,” Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “They believe that a recovery is coming but they don’t see it in their current job prospects.”
The Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, rose to 69.4 in May from 63.1 the prior month.
Consumer confidence about expectations is one of the "official" leading economic indicators, and this level of confidence has only been matched one other time -- last summer -- since the onset of the recession.
That's the good news. The bad news is, they aren't putting their wallets where their expectations are. After a 4 week hiatus in reporting, Shoppertrak tells us that lst week:
show[ed] a year over year decrease of -3.0% compared to the same week in May '08. The May month to date estimated run rate for ... Retail Sales decreased -3.6% compared to the same weeks in May '08
Shoppertrak accurately foretold better than expected retail sales rebounds in January and February, and also accurately foretold the consumer return to hibernation in April. There is every reason to believe May retail sales will also reamin lower than last year.
Increasing gas prices, based on $60+ Oil, are not helping.
The bottom line: a few months from now may be better, but right now consumers are still holding on to their wallets.