Consumers Look Glum

With hurricanes swirling and gasoline becoming a luxury item, consumer confidence hit a historic level in October – a historic level in the wrong direction. It looks like we’re in for a dip in consumer spending, which should caution the concert industry.

The Consumer Confidence Index, organized by private research group The Conference Board, took the sharpest one-month drop in 15 years, falling from 106 in August to 85 in October. That’s the lowest level since October 2003.

“Much of the decline in confidence over the past two months can be attributed to the recent hurricanes, [gas] pump shock and a weakening labor market,” Lynn Franco, director of the Board’s Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.

An anticipated 50 percent jump in home heating oil is another factor, she said. A separate report shows that home sales are slowing, considering that evacuees from Hurricane Katrina looking for new homes kept the figure in the plus column.

Also, the hurricanes have triggered the highest level of layoffs in nearly four years.

Retailers are preparing for a lousy holiday season, and Federal Reserve officials say more interest-rate hikes are on the way to offset an advancing inflation.

Wall Street didn’t like the report, and the Dow Jones industrial average fell 7.13 points when it was released October 25th, after falling 68 points earlier in the day.

Add it all up, and the glass looks a little below half-filled for the concert biz this winter. Those discretionary dollars might not be flying around, and that means some folks might pass on live music.