Consumer confidence back up in May
Consumer confidence hedged up a bit to near-March highs in May after dropping in April. The Index now reads 83.0, up from a downwardly revised estimate of 81.7 in April.
“Consumer confidence improved slightly in May, as consumers assessed current conditions, in particular the labor market, more favorably," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "Expectations regarding the short-term outlook for the economy, jobs and personal finances were also more upbeat. In fact, the percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to grow over the next six months is the highest since December 2007 (20.2%). Thus, despite last month’s decline, consumers’ confidence appears to be growing.”
The Present Situation Index also increased to 80.4 from 78.5. Even though fewer said business conditions were "good" in May, those considering them "bad" also declined. The number of those claiming jobs were "plentiful" went up 1.1%, and fewer said they were "hard to get."
Meanwhile, the Expectations Index was up to 84.8 compared to 83.9 in April. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased by 0.3% — and those expecting them to worsen decreased by the same amount. The bulk of the optimism rested on the outlook for the labor market, with those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increasing 0.7% and those expecting their incomes to grow increasing by 1.5%.
At 83.9, March had the highest score in recent years.
IKEA, American Woodmark and Thomasville score high in cabinets
While the operational performance of cabinets is still critical, a smooth ordering and delivery process is essential to achieving high levels of customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power "2014 U.S. Kitchen Cabinet Satisfaction Study."
The study, now in its eighth year, measures customer satisfaction with kitchen cabinets by measuring five factors (in alphabetical order), design features (such as the variety of cabinet colors/finishes and range of sizes and shapes available), operational performance (including smoothness of drawer slides and sturdiness of cabinet joinery), ordering and delivery (including ease of ordering, condition of products at delivery and timeliness of delivery), price and warranty.
IKEA ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction among cabinet brands, with a score of 789 on a 1,000-point scale. IKEA performs particularly well in two of the five factors. Following IKEA in the rankings are American Woodmark (770) and Thomasville (769).
Other key findings from the study:
• On average, customers spend approximately $4,756 on their new kitchen cabinets, up by 14% from 2013.
• Customers have purchased more cabinet units, on average, in 2014 than in 2013 (17 versus 12, respectively).
• Nearly half (40%) of customers indicate installing their cabinets themselves.
• Among cabinet customers, 33% say they “definitely will” recommend their cabinet brand to others, compared with 25% in 2013, and 27% say they “definitely will” purchase the same brand again, compared with 17% in 2013.
“The condition of the cabinets upon delivery is the most important driver of the delivery process, followed by timeliness,” said Christina Cooley, director of the home improvement practice at J.D. Power. “Manufacturers can increase satisfaction by focusing beyond just the cabinets themselves to paying particular attention to how customers’ expectations are set in the shopping and purchase process and then ensuring the brand delivers all the way through to installation.”