Ottawa – An unstable global economy and a soft recovery south of the border continue to produce disappointing survey results. The Conference Board of Canada’s Index of Consumer Confidence declined for a third consecutive month in December 2012, this time by 2.4 points, bringing it to 77.9 (2002 = 100). A slightly more positive outlook on current finances and major purchases was more than offset by an increase in pessimism on forward-looking questions.
Attitudes toward major purchases recorded a minor improvement. But optimistic responses continue to be far outnumbered by negative ones, with 48.7% answering that now is a bad time to make a major purchase—a concern for holiday shopping.
Despite the weakness in the final quarter, the index did make significant progress in 2012. The index has now increased on a year-over-year basis for five consecutive months, and stands 8 points higher than at this time in 2011. Yet, despite these improvements, index levels for all regions remain below their pre-recession highs, and concern about future job prospects and the Canadian economy in general remain elevated—a reflection of this period of unusually high economic risk.
After two consecutive months of declines, British Columbia’s index bounced back in a big way, climbing 18.3 points to 109.4. That means B.C. closes out 2012 with the highest regional index value. On an annual basis, B.C. led the way with a 35.9 point jump. Atlantic Canada was the other region to register a gain this month – rising 12.9 points to 79.8. After five consecutive monthly gains, Ontario reversed course with a 6.8 point drop to 68.4. Quebec’s index fell 3.8 points to 64.1, and the Prairies’ index declined 7.7 points to 97.4.
This month’s survey was conducted between December 6 and December 18, 2012, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1%.