Visualization is crucial to understanding and learning from our data. As we continue to experiment with new forms of visualization, we wanted to share with you a heatmap of consumer sentiment over 13 years, from 2000 to the end of 2013. The visualization below shows a grim, yet informative, view of how consumers feel about their lives and prospects. Mouse over the grid elements to see the numbers themselves.



The data is made available through the University of Michigan’s survey of consumers. It should come as no surprise that it paints a negative picture of consumer sentiment — sentiment has been relatively negative since 2008’s economic crisis.

At the same time, however, the data allows us to build new hypotheses around sentiment and how consumers generally feel. Colors seem to get redder in December, particularly in more recent years. Furthermore, 2012 shows a relative upswing in sentiment compared to 2011 or 2010. Interestingly, the dot-com bubble of 2001 had a negative impact on consumer sentiment, but it was inconsistent and relatively minor when compared to 2008.

These are just some observations from temporal heatmaps of consumer sentiment. While they don’t necessarily provide statistically significant findings, they significantly facilitate hypothesis generation and aid in understanding the trends and fads that pervade our lives.