Number of Americans Intending to Vacation in Next 6 Months Rises Despite COVID Surge

The latest report from the Conference Board showed that U.S. consumer confidence fell in August to a six-month low as the COVID-19 Delta variant spreads, but that has not stopped Americans from taking some time off.

Plans for purchasing home, cars and major appliances slowed significantly in August, and the overall index is 19 points below its pre-pandemic level. The number of consumers planning to take a vacation in the next six months, however, continued to increase, the Associated Press reported.

The August drop indicates a breakdown in the current conditions and components of the consumer confidence index. Levels reported Tuesday are the lowest since 2011, according to the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index.

The Delta variant, which is more contagious and deadly, is rising alongside the decrease, suggesting that the spread has had a negative impact on views about the strength of the economy, inflation and job prospects in the coming months.

"While the resurgence of COVID-19 and inflation concerns have dampened confidence, it is too soon to conclude this decline will result in consumers significantly curtailing their spending in the months ahead," said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators for the Conference Board.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

US Consumers
U.S. consumer confidence fell in August to the lowest level since February amid rising concerns about the rapidly spreading COVID-19 Delta variant and worries about higher inflation. Above, consumers shop at a Walmart in Vernon Hills, Illinois, on May 23, 2021. Nam Y. Huh, file/AP Photo

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index dropped to a reading of 113.8 in August, down from a revised 125.1 in July. It was the lowest level for the index since a reading of 95.2 in February.

The July index was revised from down from an initially reported 129.1, which followed a reading of 128.9 in June, the best showing since before the pandemic struck in February 2020.

The Conference Board said that concerns about the resurgence in COVID cases as well as worries about rising gas and food prices had contributed to the drop.

The decline in the Conference Board's monthly consumer confidence gauge follow a sharp fall reported Friday in the reading from the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey.

Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist for Oxford Economics, said the declines in consumer sentiment were occurring at a time when consumer spending has slowed from the sizzling gains seen in the first six months of the year.

But many analysts said they still expect further gains in consumer spending in the coming months, given the high levels of savings households have currently.

"Americans overall are flush with cash and eager to spend it as the economy reopens," said Robert Frick, corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union.