U.S. consumers appear to have the weakest economic outlook since the recession, according to the most recent Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index. Another recent report from the Conference Board mirrored these findings.
The studies come amid mounting economic protests across the country and the release of a non-partisan report by the Congressional Budget Office that shows income swelled by 275 percent for the top 1 percent of households from 1979 to 2007.
"Consumer sentiment remains mired knee-deep in the big muddy of an epic housing mess, household deleveraging and a broken labor market," economist Joseph Brusuelas told Bloomberg. "The specter of a European debt crisis and the likelihood of no additional policy support here at home will probably keep sentiment at or near historically low levels."
However, analysts are hoping this year's holiday shopping season can bring some much-needed cheer to markets. While levels are not expected to surpass last year's, a recent Accenture survey found 88 percent of U.S. consumers plan to match or increase their spending compared with 2010.