Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Business optimism drops again

Small business owners concerned about conditions for next six months

The National Federation of Independent Business Index of Small Business Optimism lost 0.9 points in July and reached 88.1 following a sharp decline in June. The Index has been below 93 every month since January 2008 (31 months), and below 90 for 24 of those months, all readings typical of a weak or recession-mired economy. Ninety percent of the decline this month resulted from deterioration in the outlook for business conditions in the next six months.

“The recovery in optimism that we are currently experiencing is very weak compared to recoveries after the 1982 and 1975 recessions,” said Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB’s chief economist. “The small business sector is not on a sustained positive trajectory, and with this half of the private sector missing in action, the economy’s poor growth performance is not surprising.”

The net percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reporting higher nominal sales in the past three months lost one point, falling to a net-negative 16 percent, 18 points better than June 2009 but indicative of very weak customer activity. Unadjusted, 26 percent of all owners reported higher sales (last three months compared to prior three months, up three points) while 33 percent reported lower sales (down two points). Widespread price cutting continued to contribute to reports of lower nominal sales.

The net percent of owners expecting real sales gains improved one point over June, rising to a net-negative 4 percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted), still quite dismal. Not seasonally adjusted, 26 percent expect improvement over the next three months, 28 percent expect declines.

A net-negative 19 percent of all owners reported gains in inventories (more firms cut stocks than added to them, seasonally adjusted), two points better than June but a very weak number. July 2010 is the 28th negative double-digit month in a row for inventory gains, and the 38th negative month in a row.
Business optimism

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