The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index in February fell to its lowest point in five years, keeping the economy on recession watch as shoppers fretted over the job market.
The Index dropped to 75 from 87.3 in January. Its two components also declined in February. The Expectations Index decreased to 57.9 from 69.3, while the Present Situation Index dropped to 100.6 from 114.3 last month.
"The decline in consumer confidence, including the drop in consumers' assessment of the labor market, has a recession-like feel to it. While we do not think that consumer confidence drives spending, we believe that it can pick up major swings in economic activity and the cumulative decline in confidence keeps us on recession watch," said John Ryding, chief U.S. economist at Bear, Stearns & Co., in a research note.
Ryding said confidence is "much weaker than expected," citing the deterioration of consumers' assessment of labor market conditions as one reason for the sharp decline in February.
Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said the overall Index continues to lose ground and, with the "exception of the Iraqi War in 2003, is now at its lowest level in nearly 15 years." In November 1993, the Index was at 71.9.
"The weakening in consumers' assessment of current conditions, fueled by a combination of less favorable business conditions and a sharp rise in the number of consumers saying jobs are hard to get, suggests that the pace of growth in early 2008 has slowed even further. Consumers' expectations have also deteriorated significantly and are now at a 17-year low (January 1991, 55.3). With so few consumers expecting conditions to turnaround in the months ahead, the outlook for the economy continues to worsen and the risk of a recession continues to increase," Franco said.
As for present conditions, consumers who claimed business conditions are "bad" rose slightly to 21.8 percent from 20.1 percent, and those who said business conditions are "good" dropped to 18.5 percent from 20.6 percent. Consumers were also more pessimistic about the job market, as those who said jobs are "hard to get" rose to 23.8 percent from 20.6 percent, while those who believed jobs are "plentiful" declined to 20.6 percent from 23.8 percent.
In the latest poll, short-term expectations also fell, as consumers who said business conditions will worsen over the next six months increased sharply to 21.4 percent from 16.3 percent. Respondents who anticipated business conditions to improve declined to 9.5 percent from 11.5 percent in January.
On the jobs front, the outlook over the next six months also was tinged with pessimism. Those surveyed who expected fewer jobs in the months ahead spike up to 27.9 percent from last month's 21.9 percent, while the respondents who said they expect more jobs fell to 9 percent from 10.5 percent. Moreover, the consumers who said they expect their incomes to rise fell to 17 percent from 18.1 percent.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast