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Consumer Confidence Crawls Slightly Higher This Month

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index came in slightly higher this month — 69 compared with 67 for October.

Danielle Karson reports for NPR that this is good news for retailers, but no reason to break out the bubbly:

Retailers are keeping a close eye on peoples’ moods between now and Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving, and the official start of the all-important holiday shopping season.

Analysts say this should be the best year for retailers in four years. Unfortunately, Mesirow Financial chief economist Diane Swonk cautions that’s not saying much so long as most shoppers keep a tight rein on their spending.

“People are sticking to necessities," she said. "They’re using layaway because they don’t have the credit they once did. And they’re willing to spend for themselves as well as their families during the holiday season. But they don’t have a lot of means to go very far.”

So, some major retailers have already begun rolling out promotions and discounts to attract budget-conscious shoppers.

The Wall Street Journal reports the consumer sentiment index is still way below the "76 it reached in June, before worries that the U.S. could re-enter a recession roiled confidence."