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The Pulse: Economic Outlook and Update

The Pulse of the American Consumer is focused on continued insight into consumer sentiments for businesses across all industries.


It’s the last The Pulse of the American Consumer for 2021! As the year comes to a close, U.S. consumers have the economy on their minds. The perspectives on cost of living, supply chain disruptions, inflation, and whether things will change for the better or worse in 2022 are varying among consumers. In order for businesses to have the most success connecting with their consumers, they have to understand them – what they are interested in, what they need, and how they feel. At ENGINE, we have the real-time pulse of the consumer, today, and always. Throughout 2021, we are offering weekly insights by identifying important data points and trends from the voice of the consumer.


Key Findings as of December 17, 2021:

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The Pulse of the American Consumer v46

If you would like more information on ENGINE CARAVAN surveys, contact us below:

At ENGINE, we will be keeping up with the pulse of the consumer throughout 2021, and are regularly running our CARAVAN surveys on current social issues. Contact us at caravaninfo@enginegroup.com for more information or for the full CARAVAN survey findings.

This Online CARAVAN® omnibus surveys were conducted on January 8-10, January 15-17, January 22-24, January 29-31, February 5-7, February 12-14,  February 19-21, February 26-28, March 5-7, March 12-14, March 19-21, March 26-28, April 2-4, April 9-11, April 16-18, April 23-25, April 30-May 2, May 7-9, May 14-16, May 21-23, June 2-6, June 11-13, June 18-20, June 25-27, July 9-11, July 16-18, July 23-25, July 30-August 1,  August 6-8, August 13-15, August 20-22, August 27-29, September 10-12, September 17-19, September 24-26, October 1-3, October 8-10, October 15-17, October 22-24, October 29-31, November 5-7, November 12-14, November 19-21, December 3-5, December 10-12, and December 15-17, 2021. Approximately 1,000 adults selected from opt-in panels were surveyed. The results are also weighted to U.S. Census data to be demographically representative.

Written by the CARAVAN team at ENGINE Insights.

The Pulse of the American Consumer

Consumer Insights for Business

The increasing cost of living, continued supply chain disruptions, and inflation are all on the minds of Americans this week.

Gain insight on these issues and more in this week’s The Pulse of the American Consumer.

Economic Outlook and Update

39% of U.S. Adults believe the economy will improve over the next 12 months — optimism is driven heavily by young consumers.

  • 43% Gen Z
  • 50% Millennials
  • 54% Democrats

Still, 36% believe the economy will decline within the next year.

  • Republicans (56%) appear to feel particularly pessimistic, as well as Baby Boomers (45%).

In the event the U.S. economy were to experience a downturn over the next 12 months, 68% of U.S. consumers feel they are fi nancially prepared to manage through it, though just 14% claim to be very well prepared.

Over the past 30 days, 77% of Americans have done at least one of the following as a direct result of the increased cost of living Americans are currently experiencing:

  • 30% Stocked up on grocery items, fearing that prices will get even higher
  • 25% Waited longer than usual to turn on the heat/set the thermostat lower than usual
  • 23% Cancelled specifi c plans to dine out or order takeout
  • 20% Postponed the purchase of a discretionary item to have more funds on hand for everyday necessities
  • 19% Cancelled plans for trips by car that weren’t absolutely necessary
  • 17% Drove around to look for a gas station that had the lowest price per gallon
  • 16% Postponed a short trip/getaway to have more funds on hand for everyday items
  • 16% Eating less/went on an unplanned diet
  • 16% Postponed the purchase of a major home appliance
  • 9% Adopted a far more plant-based diet due to the increased costs of meats/proteins

As you have likely seen, supply chain disruptions have been a major issue around the world. For example, cargo ships have been stuck waiting outside major U.S. ports and once their goods are ashore, it has been challenging to transport them to the public because of a lack of truck drivers.

Given this situation, to what extent do you or disagree with these statements?

  • As frustrating as it is, it is not surprising to see given the ongoing impacts of the pandemic
    • 83% Agree (Net)
    • 32% Strongly Agree
  • I feel an increased urgency to buy extra goods right now for fear they won’t be available when I need them later
    • 59%% Agree (Net)
    • 21% Strongly Agree
  • I blame the Biden Administration for not being able to resolve this problem
    • 52% Agree (Net)
    • 29% Strongly Agree
  • This has had a major impact on my ability to celebrate the holiday season this year
    • 49% Agree (Net)
    • 20% Strongly Agree
  • My household has been greatly impacted by not being able to fi nd basic items we frequently use
    • 48% Agree (Net)
    • 17% Strongly Agree

How much do you personally consider the following as indicators of the health of the U.S. economy?

*Demographic differences are based on Major Indicator*

  • The rate of inflation
    • 52% Major
      • 69% Republicans
      • 45% Democrats
    • 85% Major/Moderate
  • Gas prices
    • 51% Major
      • 65% Republicans
      • 42% Democrats
    • 83% Major/Moderate
  • The unemployment rate
    • 44% Major
      • 46% Republicans
      • 45% Democrats
    • 78% Major/Moderate
  • The total of the national debt
    • 43% Major
      • 60% Republicans
      • 33% Democrats
    • 77% Major/Moderate
  • Available product inventory in stores/retailers
    • 35% Major
      • 44% Republicans
      • 33% Democrats
    • 80% Major/Moderate
  • Interest rates for loans
    • 30% Major
      • 34% Republicans
      • 30% Democrats
    • 74% Major/Moderate
  • The stock market indices
    • 28% Major
      • 31% Republicans
      • 28% Democrats
    • 73% Major/Moderate

To what extent do you agree or disagree with these statements?

*Demographic differences are based on Agree (Net)*

  • The U.S. economy can’t be viewed as stable until inflation is under control
    • 79% Agree (Net)
      • 84% Republicans
      • 77% Democrats
    • 36% Strongly Agree
  • The ongoing status of the pandemic is the biggest factor impacting the economy today
    • 75% Agree (Net)
      • 64% Republicans
      • 86% Democrats
    • 36% Strongly Agree
  • The U.S. unemployment rate has steadily improved since President Biden took office
    • 57% Agree (Net)
      • 33% Republicans
      • 77% Democrats
    • 22% Strongly Agree
  • The stock market indices have steadily improved since President Biden took office
    • 55% Agree (Net)
      • 34% Republicans
      • 74% Democrats
    • 16% Strongly Agree
  • I view the current U.S. economy as strong
    • 44% Agree (Net)
      • 24% Republicans
      • 62% Democrats
    • 15% Strongly Agree