There are signs that consumer optimism is leading to more spending. A record number of Americans visited stores and shopping websites over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.
Shoppers spent an average of $423 from Thursday through Sunday, up from $398 last year.
Online sales jumped 30.3 percent on Cyber Monday, making it the biggest online shopping day ever, according a report from IBM Benchmark, which tracks online sales.
The Conference Board surveyed about 2,500 households in the first two weeks of the month. Those surveyed were asked how they felt about the economy and job market now, as well as where they see both going in six months. They were also asked if they planned to make a major purchase or take a vacation in the next six months.
More Americans said they plan to buy a home, an appliance or take a vacation, the survey found. About 6.9 percent said they planned to buy a home in the next six months, the highest on record. But the percentage expecting to buy a car fell.
The rise in confidence suggests that households aren't yet concerned about the fiscal cliff.
“Hopefully, their optimism is warranted,” said Joseph LaVorgna, an economist at Deutsche Bank. But if the cliff isn't avoided, they “could be in for a rude awakening.”
The higher tax rates that would result would leave consumers with less money to spend and could prompt businesses to cut back on hiring and investing.
Confidence may continue to rise
A resolution of issues involved with the fiscal cliff, as most economists expect, likely would raise business and consumer confidence even further. Reports Tuesday showed: