In the latest Thomson Reuters/China Primary Consumer Sentiment Index, worries over jobs and overall economic conditions pushed the index down 4.4 percent in August from the prior month.
“The decline is derived from weakness in employment confidence, economic expectation, investment climate and current personal financial conditions,” analysts at the firm said in their report. “In times like these, shoppers gravitate towards affordable fashions, which underlines why the Macy’s/Alibaba collaboration might be a nice match. Chinese shoppers also appreciate American brands.”
Separately, the Thomson Reuters Ipsos Consumer Index, which is a sentiment measure composed of 11 consumer-based metrics conducted in 24 countries, also declined by 0.5 percent. The confidence index had peaked in January, but has declined every month since.
“A lack of positive news hasn’t motivated consumers to hit the malls — the latest readings suggest that mall traffic was weak during the first half of the year,” Thomson Reuters analysts said. “Consumers still seem to be concerned about job security. Consistent and good financial news is needed in order to lift shoppers’ spirits and motivate them to fully open their wallets in all categories.”
Recent sales and earnings misses by major retailers “have made Wall Street wonder about changes in consumer spending behavior,” the report stated, adding that Millennials are driving a seismic shift that is forcing retailers to “find new ways of growth,” which is centered on investments in e-commerce and omnichannel strategies.
“This is also a reason why more store closures are actually a good move for retailers,” the analysts stated. “Today, closing stores means reducing expenses, freeing capital for investment, offering a smarter omnichannel and managing inventory better for improved efficiency. Other causes for the change in consumer spending patterns include lack of positive economic and financial news, rise of healthy lifestyle pursuits and improvement in the housing market.”
The report also noted that mobile devices are driving significant changes at retail, and “have made consumers accustomed to instant gratification — having items they want delivered just in time and in place.” The report went on to state that this has “decreased the need for shoppers to drive to brick-and-mortar stores to purchase items, and caused retailers to find better solutions to manage inventory.”