Consumers feel 8% less confident about their financial outlook this month than they did one year ago, according to the latest WalletHub Economic Index.
“Although the rate of inflation has slowed down, inflation is still there,” said Yuliya Strizhakova, Associate Professor, Camden, Rutgers University. “Consequently, consumers are spending more money on basic necessities, such as utilities, groceries, mortgages, rent, and other essentials than in the past. It leaves less room for higher-end purchases, luxuries, and savings.”
“The year of 2022 was the first time when consumers were able to travel and socialize without COVID restrictions,” added Rebecca Jen-Hui Wang, Ph.D. , Associate Professor, Lehigh University; Research Scholar, Northwestern University. “So, even as they were facing financial uncertainties brought forth by inflation, consumers were spending on restaurant food, travel, and in-person retail shopping as they tried to make up for the lost time. However, this sentiment is starting to shift downward in recent weeks. Consumers continue to maneuver their lives around higher prices, and real wages have decreased. Dollar-wise, consumers may not be spending less due to inflation, but they will become more value-prone when they make purchase decisions.”
The WalletHub Economic Index is a monthly survey that evaluates economic prospects based on 10 components of consumer sentiment. These components revolve around how people feel about their finances, purchasing plans and employment opportunities.
Key Stats – Negative Outlook
- Rising stress: Consumers’ stress levels regarding money are nearly 9% worse in March 2023 compared to last year.
- Large purchases are not a priority: In March 2023, consumers’ likelikood of making a large purchase in the next six months is more than 11% lower than it was last year.
- Low financial optimism: In March 2023, consumers’ optimism about their finances is close to 11% lower than it was last year.
- Declining interest in auto purchases: The share of consumers who expect to buy a car in the next six months is about 10% lower in March 2023 compared to last year.
- Real estate declines: Home-buying interest among consumers decreased by more than 5% during the past year.
Key Stats – Positive Outlook
- Credit score security: The share of consumers who expect their credit score to increase in the next six months is slightly higher (+1.4%) in March 2023 compared to last year.
The complete WalletHub Economic Index results can be found at https://wallethub.com/edu/wallethub-economic-index/91926.
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