Consumer confidence rebounded in March, following a slip in February. However, public sentiment’s upward swing may not last long as data from economic research group The Conference Board shows that the outlook on short term labor and business conditions is growing more pessimistic.

The Promo Perspective:

How the ebb and flow of consumer sentiment affects promotional products companies is somewhat dependent on the markets they operate in, the state of the supply chain and other factors.

  • “We’ve experienced a similar pattern at QRG with robust sales in the first quarter and strong work in progress to kick off Q2, but we are tempering our expectations as economic indicators are less optimistic.” — Todd Pottebaum, MAS+, president of Plymouth, Minnesota, distributor Quality Resource Group (PPAI 159353, D10) 
  • “Retail sales and consumer demand continue to trend in a strong, positive direction in the categories we are closest to—housewares, seasonal, electronics, apparel, consumer packaged goods. Getting a read on the full measure of that demand has been hard because the supply chain still hasn’t caught up to the demand in these categories.” — Noah Lapine, president and owner of Stamford, Connecticut, distributor Lapine Associates, Inc. (PPAI 101116, D6)      

The Numbers:

  •  The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index reached 107.2 in March, up from 105.7 in February.
  • The Conference Board’s Present Situation Index—based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions—improved to 153 in March from 143 in February.
  • The Expectations Index—based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions—declined to 76.6 from 80.8.


“Consumer confidence was up slightly in March after declines in February and January,” says Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “The Present Situation Index rose substantially, suggesting economic growth continued into late Q1. Expectations, on the other hand, weakened further with consumers citing rising prices, especially at the gas pump, and the war in Ukraine as factors. Meanwhile, purchasing intentions for big-ticket items like automobiles have softened somewhat over the past few months as expectations for interest rates have risen.”

Franco says, “Nevertheless, consumer confidence continues to be supported by strong employment growth and thus has been holding up remarkably well despite geopolitical uncertainties and expectations for inflation over the next 12 months reaching 7.9 percent—an all-time high. However, these headwinds are expected to persist in the short term and may potentially dampen confidence as well as cool spending further in the months ahead.”