What will be the effect of Washington’s political impasse on consumer behavior?
The biggest news of the past several weeks has to be the government shutdown. Needless to say, the uncertainty coupled with an absence of data makes markets very uncomfortable. Perhaps more important is the influence on consumer behavior.
The Thompson Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is a good measure of the general feeling of consumers over time. October’s initial reading was 75.2, which is the lowest since January. Much of the decline can likely be attributed to all the political wrangling on Capitol Hill.
As this is being written, there appears to be some cautious progress on the Senate side, but we’re still a long ways from an agreement. Whatever the resolution, there will be more drama and rancor along the way.
However, all of that plays on consumers’ reticence to go out and spend. Therefore, all sorts of commerce will be influenced by waning confidence and uncertainty as consumers hunker down. It’s been a long, slow grind back since the lows of the financial crisis. The recovery is tenuous, and there’s little room for error.
Whatever the final outcome, how do you see all this influencing consumers from a longer-term perspective? What influence will it have on beef expenditures? Are you concerned about beef spending over the next several months because of this political uncertainty?
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