While American consumers feel a little better about the economy than they did during the recession, "consumer morale, although stable, remains stubbornly low," according to the results of McKinsey's Customer Sentiment Survey. So if you see a wave of stories over the next two weeks that imply shoppers haven't carried their weight during the holiday season, then perhaps you have one more reason not to be surprised. Here is an excerpt:
Our report in September 2012 showed that things were looking up for most Americans. Many aspects of consumer sentiment indicated marked improvement. Yet from there, things have either plateaued or gotten worse. Consumers are still worried about losing their jobs (39 percent in 2014), and 40 percent of the consumers we surveyed said they are coping with the challenge of living paycheck to paycheck, up from 31 percent in 2012.
The significant economic pressure that families earning less than $75,000 a year feel has caused many of them to make spending adjustments in order to make ends meet. Roughly 40 percent of these households say they are making changes, including cutting back and delaying purchases, as compared with 22 percent of those in households earning at least $150,000 a year. Americans at all income levels have yet to return to their prerecession positive feelings about the country’s economy. Today just 23 percent say they are optimistic about the economy, down from 27 percent at the beginning of the recession in 2009.
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