Just when we think things are starting to normalize and jagged timelines in our data begin to run smooth, a new bombshell from Washington has the potential to jolt everything. Two weeks ago, we touted a positive trend in Hispanic consumer sentiment. The next day, a new immigration travel ban went into effect and the trend slowed, before picking back up again. This week, we saw unremarkable (in a good way) measures in our Economic Sentiment Index. Those numbers are changing as we speak, thanks to a certain email epiphany.
Anyway, here are a few of the things we are seeing right now. Tomorrow is another day…
Overall consumer sentiment has/had been stable for the better part of three months. Our latest ESI reading rose 0.7 points since our last report two weeks ago. That’s nothing. Even with occasional jumps in our 3-day rolling average, our aggregate two-week score has stayed within a single point since April 4th. All that tells us is that the daily ebbs and flows of public opinion are canceling each other out. It will be interesting to see what effects Donald Trump Jr’s Russia kerfuffle has on our numbers going forward, particularly in regards to confidence in the U.S. economy. It’s too early to tell.
Not everything Amazon touches is turning to gold – particularly its streaming video service. Usage of Amazon Prime Instant Video had been notably flat in our data for the better part of six quarters and has even shown signs of decline in the past two. Growth in overall Amazon Prime subscriptions aren’t even boosting video usage as we would expect. The combination of intense competition in the streaming market and less-than-enthusiastic audience reaction to Amazon’s original programming seems to be the culprit.
Speaking of Amazon Prime, I need to call out some misleading data that made its way through the business press earlier this week. Investment data company, Morningstar, published a report claiming that Amazon Prime would surpass Pay TV (cable + satellite) in U.S. household penetration sometime next year. I call B.S. All we can guess is that Morningstar is confusing “Prime Households” with “People who live in Prime households,” given that multiple people can live in the same house under one membership. At most, 46% of U.S. adults live in a Prime household today. Pay TV, meanwhile, is still prevalent in >70% of U.S households. Yes, Pay TV is in decline and Amazon Prime is on the rise. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The numbers aren’t even close.
The importance of flying a specific airline has increased significantly among travelers over the past four years, especially in 2017. This could partly be a result of improved consumer confidence since the election, as people are less concerned about price. Or, in 2017, “specific airline” could just be a euphemism for “anybody but United.”
On a much more important note…
Restaurants need to stop leaving the tails on shrimp in pasta, salads, and other dishes not meant to be eaten entirely by hand. This is me using our platform for the common good here, folks. Who really likes fishing their hands around in a pile of marinara or vinaigrette to remove the tail from a shrimp (because you lose a part of the meat if you cut them off with a knife, am I right?)? And don’t tell me it’s supposed to be rustic or some nonsense like that. Do you know what else is rustic? Outhouses. So, I asked – and people prefer having the tails removed by a factor of more than 2-to-1. Let’s stop the madness, chefs.
The meteoric rise of our foodie culture is showing no signs of slowing. Just when you thought Americans might have reached their Guy Fieri saturation point, the percentage of people who follow trends in food and cooking at least ‘somewhat closely’ has grown from 30% to almost 40% over the past seven quarters. Most of those gains have come in 2017.
Maybe we’re all escaping the political chaos by hiding in the kitchen. Or maybe all those Tasty videos on Facebook are controlling our brains more than we thought.
Hoping you’re well.