Despite recent grim economic forecasts, online spending, especially in jewelry, and consumer confidence are up. The National Retail Federation and Forrester Research announced last week total online spending increased to $3.4 billion in February from $3 billion in January. The total number of households online increased from 13.3 million in January to 13.5 million in February, and consumers spent an average of $248 per person in February, up from $229 in January.
Online jewelry retailers were the big winners in online sales for February. Jewelry sales increased by 40% to $104 million in February, up from $62 million in January. "In light of the economic slowdown, we are pleased to see the Internet continues to thrive as a consumer shopping channel," says James L. McQuivey, research director at Forrester. "It's also reassuring to see the Valentine's Day love fires stir a 40% jump in online jewelry sales in February."
Consumer confidence rebounded in March after declining for five months. The Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 117, up from 109.2 in February. The Expectations index increased from 70.7 to 83.6, and the Present Situation Index rose from 167.1 to 167.2. "The rebound in consumer confidence was triggered by an improvement in the economic outlook for the next six months and employment prospects," the Conference Board says.
- by Julia M. Duncan