Expectations for year-ahead credit availability improved slightly, with fewer respondents expecting credit will become harder to obtain, according to a survey from The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data.

The February Survey of Consumer Expectations also showed expectations about household income growth moderated somewhat slowed, while spending growth and home price change expectations both ticked up. Perceptions of credit access compared to a year ago deteriorated with a smaller proportion of respondents reporting easier credit access and a greater proportion of respondents reporting harder credit access.

The average perceived probability of missing a minimum debt payment over the next three months declined from 11.8 percent to 11.4 percent in February, falling below its 12-month average of 11.5 percent.

The report also shows a small increase in medium-term inflation expectations.

The main findings from the survey show median inflation expectations at the one-year horizon were unchanged at 2.5 percent and increased at the three-year horizon to 2.6 percent in February from 2.5 percent in January. In terms of the labor market,  the median one-year ahead expected earnings growth was unchanged at 2.6 percent in February, remaining above the 12-month trailing average of 2.4 percent. Median earnings growth uncertainty increased slightly. Mean unemployment expectations—or the mean probability that the U.S. unemployment rate will be higher one year from now—decreased slightly to 34.2 percent in February, from 34.8 percent in January and 34.6 percent in December and November.

Other findings show median expected household income growth declined to 2.7 percent in February after three consecutive monthly readings of 2.9 percent.  The decline was driven by respondents under age 40. Median household spending growth expectations increased 0.1 percentage point to 3.1 percent in February, its third consecutive increase and approaching its trailing 12-month average of 3.2 percent.

More than half of car buyers and 60 percent of auto service customers said social media and review sites were more helpful than a dealer website in selecting a dealership.

That was one of the findings from Digital Air Strike’s 8th Annual Automotive Digital Retailing Consumer Trends Study revealed at this year's National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Las Vegas.

"As the car buying process becomes increasingly digital, consumers continue to do more research online before they even contact a dealership," said Alexi Venneri, co-founder and CEO of Digital Air Strike.

The study surveyed 7,000 vehicle purchasers and servicers that had either purchased or serviced a vehicle with a franchised dealership in the prior six months

The findings also showed 62 percent of sales customers (up from 47 percent in prior year) chose a dealership solely based on online search and reviews. It also showed that 62 percent of sales customers and 51 percent of service customers ranked Google as the top site for reading reviews about dealerships

Sixty-seven percent of sales customers and 62 percent of service customers use Facebook to read dealership reviews. Consumers want automated tools that make it easy to contact a dealership, including intelligent messaging. Ninety percent of customers said they would book an appointment using chat technology. The study also showed 61 percent of car buyers said the dealership's speed of response impacted their decision to choose one dealership over another.

 

Watch: Social Media strategist Starr Hall offers ideas and insight on how local businesses can use social media to impact their brand. Drawing from her experience working with companies like Sprint, UPS and Samsung, Starr generates and applies new strategies and ideas for business big and small.

Consumers continue to lack confidence in the future mobility technologies that automakers are eager to bring to market. According to the J.D. Power 2019 Q4 Mobility Confidence Index Study fueled by SurveyMonkey Audience released recently, the Mobility Confidence Index remains 36 (on a 100-point scale) for self-driving vehicles and 55 for battery-electric vehicles for a third consecutive quarter.

“Consumer opinion doesn’t change overnight, especially when it comes to new mobility technologies, but the more consumers are exposed to these technologies, the more the needle might gradually move towards acceptance,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & human machine interface research at J.D. Power. “Right now, they simply don’t know enough to fully put their trust in these systems.”

Improvements in infotainment systems and increased availability of advanced driver assistance systems are making customers increasingly satisfied with their new vehicles, according to the J.D. Power 2019 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

The industry average satisfaction index score increased to 823 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 820 in 2018, with 22 of the 32 brands included in the study improving from last year.

Porsche ranks highest in overall APEAL with a score of 891. BMW and Genesis rank second in a tie with 868, followed by Audi (867) and Volvo (863).

Ram ranks highest in the mass market segment with a score of 851. Dodge (848) ranks second, followed by Mini (835), Volkswagen (829) and Ford (828).

Ram is the most-improved brand, increasing 26 points from 2018. Other brands showing significant improvement are Dodge (+24); Jaguar (+16); Land Rover (+15); Audi (+14); and Jeep (+14).

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined in June, following an increase in May.

The Index now stands at 121.5, down from 131.3 in May. 

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less favorable. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 17.3 percent from 18.4 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 14.8 percent from 13 percent.

Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement decreased to 19.1 percent from 22.2 percent, while the proportion expecting a decrease inched up to 8 percent from 7.8 percent.

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