Over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, U.S. consumers spent about a third of their gift-giving budgets on consumer electronics gadgets, second only to clothes buying as a percentage of spending. That number comes from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), a trade group representing gear makers.
Perhaps more strangely, the CEA notes that its index of consumer technology expectations rose 0.3 points while its index of consumer expectations fell 15.1 points. The lower reading on consumer expectations was taken shortly after the general election earlier this month, as more news organizations swerved from political coverage to focus on the looming fiscal cliff. The CEA noted that 51% of those surveyed believed that the risks from the approaching cliff would have a negative impact on their holiday spending:
The media cycle moved from the election directly into the fiscal cliff and this month’s consumer sentiment suggests people are beginning to internalize what a negative outcome could mean to them.
But while Americans may be concerned about more stress on their budgets, the long weekend and Cyber Monday sales appear to have been significantly stronger than a year ago. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) reported that online shopping activity rose 28.4% on Cyber Monday, and sales rose more than 10%. And that’s after a record four-day holiday spending spree of $59.1 billion.
Consumer sentiment rose to a four-year high in November, according to today’s report from the Conference Board, with most of the rise coming in the expectations sub-index. It appears that whatever fears consumers had about the U.S. economy were either put on hold for the long weekend or have diminished altogether.