March consumer confidence plunge indicates a ‘severe contraction rather than a temporary shock’

March 31, 2020, 3:39 PM UTC

American consumers—the backbone of the economy—are feeling less confident as households start to feel the pain of the coronavirus slowdown.

Consumer confidence dropped sharply in March, according to the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index. The index published Tuesday came in at 120, down from 132.6 in February and 130.4 in January.

“March’s decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction—rather than a temporary shock—and further declines are sure to follow,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board in its press release.

The Consumer Confidence Index of 120 in March is its lowest reading since June 2017, when it was at 117.3. However, even during a month when unemployment claims hit a record 3.3. million, consumers were still more confident in March than they were entering, during, or following the 2007–2009 Great Recession.

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