Shoppers the Most Upbeat They’ve Been in 18 Years — Just in Time for the Holidays

Consumer confidence in the U.S. soared this month to the highest level it’s hit since September 2000, according to nonprofit research organization The Conference Board, as low unemployment and an optimistic outlook encourage Americans to spend.

This, of course, is particularly good news for retailers, who are just two months out from the height of the holiday shopping season and who have finally enjoyed a strong year after the drawn-out pains of the recession and post-recession period, and the disruptive forces of e-commerce.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remains extremely favorable, bolstered by a strong economy and robust job growth,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. The index hit 138.4 this month, up from 134.7 in August, putting it relatively close to the all-time high of 144.7 reached in May 2000.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that sales are expected to be up this year on Black Friday and beyond: Per Deloitte’s recent annual holiday shopping forecast, Americans are expected to spend $1.1 trillion between November and January, an increase of between 5 and 5.6 percent over last year.

Provided there isn’t a downturn in the market in the last quarter of the year — and provided the effects of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China don’t begin to trickle down to the average consumer — it’s likely we’ll see retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Walmart keep up their winning streaks. (Those that are struggling already, like beleaguered giant Sears, may not have quite the same luck if they can’t lure shoppers away from their competition, an especially tricky task for those strapped for cash.)

As expected, retailers with robust online businesses will almost certainly reap the rewards: a new survey from location data technology firm Blis found that 57.7 percent of shoppers said they plan to do the most of their holiday shopping online, while close to 40 percent said they will go into physical stores to buy their gifts.

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