New poll shows consumer confidence is riding high, but is that necessarily a good thing?

A new Gallup survey shows consumer confidence is at a five-year high.
That may not be a great sign.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Southern Oregon reports a National Foundation for Credit Counseling website poll asking consumers about spending and savings problem revealed, 62 percent identified themselves as having problems related to both spending and saving.
Local CCCS director Jan Safley boiled the problem down to spending.
“The bad news is that overspending is often tied to deep-rooted behavior, making it very difficult to change,” Safley said.
Gallup said consumers have resumed old spending habits following the Great Recession with monthly spending hit a four-year high in December.
CCCS cautions such spending may have come at the wrong time. Paychecks dinged by increases in Social Security payroll tax have reduced real income. Stepped up spending coupled with less money in checking accounts has consequences.
CCCS encourages consumers to consider these 10 warning signs to determine if spending is under control or out of control: Purchases hidden from others.
Bills paid late or ignored.
Checking accounts routinely overdrawn.
Credit essential to maintain current lifestyle level.
Unwilling to review how money is spent.
Unaware of how much is owed.
Items routinely purchased, and then returned.
Shopping used as a salve for emotional stress.
Unwilling to set financial goals.
Afraid to check credit report and score.

China is among the nations hot on the United States’ tail when it comes e-sales. Research firm eMarketer reports global Internet retail sales topped $ 1 trillion for the first time in 2012
Electronic sales grew 21.1 per cent, eMarketer said, and ecommerce is expected to grow another 18.3 per cent in 2013, as Asian sales continue to heat up.
For now, eMarketer said North America remained the top region for ecommerce with $364 billion in sales last year, up 13.9 per cent. However, the Asia-Pacific region is likely to surpass North America to the top rung with anticipated growth of 30 per cent, which would bring the market to $433 billion.
The report showed U.S. Internet buying hit $343 billion in 2012, followed by Japan, $127 billion; the United Kingdom, $124 billion; and China $110 billion.
The research firm projects China will vault into second place with 65 per cent growth this year to $181 billion, while the U.S. will remain the top market despite sluggish 12 per cent growth and $384 billion in spending.

Freight shipping declined last month, both in volume and what was paid, according to the Cass Freight Index released today.
Total shipping volume has fallen in each of the past four months, mirroring the nations contracting economy.
The St. Louis-based firm reported January shipment volume fell 4.8 percent from December, 2.5 percent lower than they were a year ago. In both 2012 and 2011, freight shipment volumes ended the year nearly the same place they began. However, this is the first year since the recession period that January shipments were actually lower than January of the previous year, Cass reported.
Total railroad usage 2012 were lower than 2011 and were contracting at year end. January rail movements looked strong at the beginning of the month, but declined in each of the last two weeks, ending 2 percent lower than a month ago. Similarly, truck shipments were sluggish in January. Intermodal volume, on the other hand, reached near record levels in 2012 and was up 3.5 percent in January compared to December 2012.

And yes, the Boise Cascade folks got to ring the bell on Wall Street today.

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    Greg Stiles

    Covering the Southern Oregon business and economy since 2001. Read Full
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