Survey Shows All-Time Low Consumer Outlook In Tennessee

Image Credit: Office of Consumer Research, Middle Tennessee State University

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

A new survey shows that Tennessee consumers have a much lower economic outlook than usual, dropping considerably since the last survey in December.

According to the Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index, a survey done four times a year by Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Business, this decline stems from concern over inflation, increasing gas prices, the war in Ukraine, and a lack of satisfaction in the performance of President Joe Biden.

Tim Graeff, Director of MTSU’s Office of Consumer Research, says that the state’s stable and diversified economy usually leads Tennesseans to measure a much more positive outlook than many other parts of the country. 

“Now we have seen that when we ask them about the overall economy, consumers in Tennessee are less positive. They’re more pessimistic than folks across the rest of the country, which was a shock to me,” Graeff said.

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Graeff says declining views of the current economy is leading residents to have lower expectations for the future of the economy.  He also noted that many people were also concerned because their investments in the stock market were going down.

“I think consumers are just reacting to the uncertainty, they’re reacting to everything happening at once. Maybe as things start to settle down, they might feel a little bit more upbeat, a little bit more as they normally would and begin to spend more,” he stated.


The current survey, completed earlier this month, resulted in a score of -198. The previous all-time low was registered at -106 in September 2021, and the December 2021 survey came in at -93. 

Graeff explained that the consumer outlook survey does not represent what is currently happening in the state, but it gives an indicator of what may be coming in the future for Tennessee’s economy. 

“If we can see what consumers are thinking, their attitude, whether they’re optimistic or pessimistic, that will determine how much they’re going to be spending. That is a leading indicator, which could tell us what might happen in the future in the economy. Because, if they’re feeling good, they’re going to spend more which grows the economy. If they’re feeling more pessimistic, they’re gonna cut back their spending, which slows the economy. Because two-thirds of the economy’s consumer spending,” said Graeff.

These results could be a bad sign for businesses, especially local retailers, as purchases may be on the decline in the near future. Surveyed individuals reported concerns about increasing prices and decreasing value of savings and investments, with nearly four times as many consumers stating that this is not a good time for making purchases.

However, Graeff was quick to point out that a lower consumer outlook does not necessarily reflect what is currently happening in the economy.

“The economy is still healthy,” he stated. “There’s still a lot of structural components of the economy that are very solid and very healthy.”

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

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