It's hard to be optimistic when consumers have so little faith in an economic turnaround.
Consumer confidence unexpectedly dropped to its lowest level in two-and-a-half years in October as consumers fretted about job and income prospects.
In other data on Tuesday, U.S. home prices were unchanged in August, pointing to a market that continued to stabilize but has yet to gain traction.
The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes fell to 39.8 from a upwardly revised 46.4 the month before. It was the lowest level since March 2009.
Economists had expected the index to rise to 46.0, according to a Reuters poll. September was originally reported as 45.4.
The present situation index slipped to 26.3 from 33.3, while the expectations index declined to 48.7 from 55.1. The expectations gauge was also at its lowest since March 2009.
"Consumer expectations, which had improved in September, gave back all of the gain and then some, as concerns about business conditions, the labor market and income prospects increased," Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.
Most people appear to be hanging on to their cash for dear life, investing in their own savings or, just as likely, paying down their debt just in case they too, join Obama's most successful program to date; the unemployment line.