The Business Breakdown

Consumers are feeling confident, autos are flying off the lots, and families still need a plan when there's only one income.


As a consumer, it’s hard to figure out what’s going on outside of your defined economic world. Prices are higher for some essentials, and items and expenses that are superfluous face the chopping block with little hesitation. Independent of the ebb and flow of the economy, it's looking like the new normal might not be so different from the old one. Here’s what we’re dealing with.

  • Feeling Better: The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer confidence is on the upswing after returning to recession-era lows. The index (up to 69.8 from March’s 67.5) was buoyed by strong jobs data. The rising cost of day-to-day goods is tamping down full-blown growth. The Breakdown: Use this metric to understand your members’ mindsets. They see more opportunity but also higher bills. Find ways to help them save money or get work. For members, that’s all that matters. Save money. Get work.
  • Vroom! Vroom!: Auto sales were up in April with major manufacturers reporting respectable growth. The Breakdown: This is a huge opportunity. The recession drove down demand, and members are looking to capitalize. As the article notes, fuel-efficient cars are more popular than ever. Think about following the lead of other credit unions and offering a fuel-efficient car loan promotion. It just might work.
  • One Family, One Income: For families that have one income but still have expenses and savings plans, thinking long-term is the best way to go. One tip is to budget without unreliable income such as bonuses factored into the equation. The Breakdown: Some members are experiencing this scenario but with less promise on the horizon. Perhaps one spouse has been laid off or injured on the job. Maybe offering courses for one-income families with children would be smart. If you see it’s common in your membership, make a move.

May 3, 2011



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