Growing faith in U.S. economy underpins comfort

Competition Intensifying

“The sluggish economy has affected consumer confidence and has led to an intensified competitive environment over the past several quarters in the restaurant sector,” said Cynthia J. Devine, chief financial officer of fast food franchise Tim Horton’s Inc. in a June 4 presentation.

Among other demographics, women’s confidence rose last week to its highest level since early January 2008, at minus 30.9. The index among whites climbed to minus 27.5, its highest since January 2008.

Seniors also grew more optimistic, with the gauge for those 65 and older rising to minus 20.4, its best in more than five years and the highest among all age groups.

Sentiment for consumers living in the West swelled 5.6 points to minus 31.1, though the Midwest remains the most confident region at minus 22.6.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index conducts telephone surveys with a random sample of 1,000 consumers 18 and older. Each week, 250 respondents are asked for their views on the economy, personal finances and buying climate. The percentage of negative responses is subtracted from the share of positive views and divided by three. The most recent reading is based on the average of responses over the previous four weeks. The margin of error for the figure is 3 percentage points.

The comfort index can range from 100, indicating every participant in the survey had a positive response to all three components, to minus 100, signaling all views were negative.

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