Businesses relying on consumers, which make up the vast majority of U.S. economic activity, may have to tread cautiously in the coming holiday season, as results of a new household survey are seen as “not very encouraging news.”

Consumer confidence fell in September after an improvement in August, the Conference Board said today in a survey of 5,000 households. Consumers also viewed both current business conditions and the labor market less favorably than last month, said Lynn Franco, Director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

“While not as pessimistic as earlier this year, consumers remain quite apprehensive about the short-term outlook and their incomes,” Franco said. “With the holiday season quickly approaching, this is not very encouraging news.

The Consumer Confidence Index stands at 53.1, down from 54.5 in August, the Conference Board said today. Its Present Situation Index fell to 22.7 from 25.4. Its Expectations Index was 73.3, down from 73.8 last month.

While recent economic news has pointed to a recovery, top U.S. government officials have noted that the job market will lag behind with unemployment continuing to rise beyond 10 percent with stabilization in 2010. The latest report found a 9.7 percent unemployment rate.