Any progress among consumer confidence made in February was easily erased this month. The index of consumer attitudes plunged to 59.7 in March, compared to a revised three-month high of 68.0 in February, according to The Conference Board, an industry group. The results were worse than every estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 79 economists, which ranged from 60 to 72. Overall, economists expected a reading of 67.5.
Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, explains, “Consumer Confidence fell sharply in March, following February’s uptick. This month’s retreat was driven primarily by a sharp decline in expectations, although consumers were also more pessimistic in their assessment of current conditions. The loss of confidence, particularly expectations, mirrors the losses experienced this past December and January. The recent sequester has created uncertainty regarding the economic outlook and as a result, consumers are less confident.”