US consumer sentiment falls to decade low

People shop at a street fair near Times Square in New York City, US on 11 July 2021.
Reuters file photo

US consumer sentiment in early August fell to its lowest level in a decade amid concerns over the spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant, according to a survey released by the University of Michigan.

The preliminary consumer sentiment index fell to 70.2 in the first half of August from a final reading of 81.2 in July, marking the lowest level since 2011, the survey released on Friday revealed.

"Consumers reported a stunning loss of confidence in the first half of August," Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey, said in a statement, adding the losses were widespread across income, age, and education subgroups and observed across all regions.

"There is little doubt that the pandemic's resurgence due to the Delta variant has been met with a mixture of reason and emotion.

"Consumers have correctly reasoned that the economy's performance will be diminished over the next several months, but the extraordinary surge in negative economic assessments also reflects an emotional response, mainly from dashed hopes that the pandemic would soon end," he added.

The fall in consumer sentiment came as Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths are rising at a record level across the country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases in the US have reached about 113,000 per day, a nearly 24 per cent increase from the previous week.

Hospital admissions rose 31 per cent, to an average of 9,700 hospitalisations per day, and fatalities increased to 452 per day, a 22 per cent spike from the prior seven-day period.

As of Saturday morning, the US' overall caseload and death toll stood at 36,592,398 and 621,005, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

The two tallies are the highest in the world, making the US the worst-hit country.

Till date, 50.3 per cent of the US population have been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to CDC data.