Unpredictable circumstances—both political and meteorological—took their toll on the latest Dealerscope CE Retail Confidence Index survey (DS Index). Retailers, entering February, reported on overall confidence score of just 161.66, a 27.4-point drop off from January. That’s the largest single-month decrease the DS Index has experienced in its nearly three-year history and one that helped send the survey to its lowest total on record.
According to retailers who responded to the survey, the main reasons for the downturn were factors that were really out of their control. For starters, this survey was conducted while the U.S. government was in the midst of what ended up being the longest shutdown in American history. During the 35-day shutdown, some 800,000 federal employees were impacted, roughly half of which had to work without pay for more than an entire month. That, of course, had a ripple effect throughout the rest of the country as those employees missed multiple paychecks, and potentially delaying the distribution of tax returns.
Another source of stress for CE retailers this month came via Mother Nature. A large chunk of the United States was hit with severe weather over the past month in the form of snowstorms and a polar vortex that brought with it bitterly cold temperatures.