Customer satisfaction levels have retreated for the first time since 2005, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index for the third quarter, which was released last week by the University of Michigan.
At a score of 75.2, the overall ACSI is down 0.1% compared with the previous quarter — but 1% above where it was last year.
Because of high consumer debt and weakened customer satisfaction, ACSI predicts a dampening effect on fourth quarter spending, predicting growth of 2.5%, compared to 3.6% last year.
“There are really only two big things that seem to determine spending for the modern consumer: gratification, which is what we determine with the satisfaction index, and financial obligations,” said professor Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI. Since financial obligations “are near record levels and overall satisfaction levels are declining, it doesn’t bode well for [Q4] spending or economic growth,” Fornell continued.
Fornell predicts that the Internet could provide some good news for retailers, as consumers can leave the car at home.