Consumer confidence slumps in late 2008

Fri Jan 2, 2009 1:38pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Consumer confidence in Canada slumped between August and December, but pessimism over the economy was countered by relatively positive personal sentiment, according to a Harris/Decima Investors Group survey released on Friday.

Pessimism about the economic outlook for the coming year increased, with 64 percent of respondents expecting bad times, double the rate in August. Canadian consumer confidence levels now match U.S. levels, as measured by a University of Michigan survey.

Belying that concern, the number of people who expect their personal financial situation to deteriorate remained largely stable at 18 percent, pollsters said.

"Whether this is a case of cognitive dissonance or a true reflection of sentiment will bear itself out in the first couple of months of 2009, likely influenced by the extent to which unemployment rates rise nationally in the new year," said Jeff Walker, Harris/Decima's senior vice-president.

The number of people who say they are worse off today than they were last year, jumped 4 points to 28 percent, but far more still say they are the same or better off than last year.

(Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Rob Wilson)