Why the Rich Are Seriously Concerned About the Economy

Why the Rich Are Seriously Concerned About the Economy

As we head into the holiday season, we've been hearing some pretty positive economic news.

After all, shrinking gas prices are predicted to fuel seasonal spending. And the latest jobs report revealed that the unemployment rate is now just 5.8%—an improvement even over last month's post-recession record low of 5.9%.

All that should point to a pretty gangbusters shopping season this year, right?

Not so fast. According to a new report, financial confidence among the wealthy is actually waning—and it'll likely spell bad news for retailers this time of year.

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The Affluent Consumer Tracking Study by Unity Marketing, which surveys Americans with a household income of at least $100,000, found that confidence among this group fell by about 12 points since last quarter—meaning it's now the lowest rate it's been since the start of 2009.

Why the decline? The main culprit appeared to be the volatile stock market, which has the wealthy particularly on edge. Plus, larger concerns, like a slow European recovery, might be adding to the economic anxiety. And unfortunately, experts predict that these global worries might have a direct effect on Americans' holiday season.

"Affluent consumers are sitting on the sidelines instead of getting in 'on the action,' " Tom Bodenberg, Unity Marketing's economist said in a press release, explaining that the hesitation is leading to the "current softness in the demand for luxury goods and services." That might lead to problems because, although these affluent consumers account for only 20% of the American population, they are responsible for over 40% of total consumer spending—a worrying stat for retailers eager to boast strong seasonal sales.

“The fact is, the affluents have money,” Pam Danziger, Unity Marketing president, told NBC. “They just don’t have the will to spend it.”

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