US consumers more confident in December despite Omicron
Shoppers take advantage of sales on New York's 5th Avenue (AFP)

American consumers were even more confident about the economy in December and less concerned about inflation, despite the rise of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index jumped nearly four points to 115.8 compared to the prior month.

And November's index, which originally showed a two-point drop, was revised up to show a modest gain, the research group said.

Consumers remain upbeat despite the numerous challenges, "setting the stage for continued growth in early 2022," said Lynn Franco, head of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

Global supply chain issues and worker shortages have caused US inflation to surge to a nearly 40-year high, but the survey showed "concerns about inflation declined after hitting a 13-year high last month as did concerns about Covid-19," Franco said.

And an increasing number of shoppers say they plan to shell out money for major purchases in the coming months, to buy homes, cars, major appliances, and take vacations.

But heading into 2022 "both confidence and consumer spending will continue to face headwinds from rising prices and an expected winter surge of the pandemic," Franco cautioned.

The index measuring feelings about the present situation dipped slightly but remains very high, while sentiment improved about the outlook for the next six months for business conditions, jobs and income, largely due to a decline in those expecting things will get worse.