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Confidence dips among upstate consumers

Confidence among Upstate New York consumers continued to fall in the third quarter, mirroring sentiment felt statewide, Siena College Research Institute reported Wednesday.

Overall confidence—which includes current and future confidence—among upstate consumers fell to 88.9 from 90.1 in the first quarter. However, that is up from 84.9 a year ago and 75.3 two years ago. Current confidence fell to 97.7 from 99.6 in the second quarter, but was up from 92.8 a year ago, while future confidence dipped slightly to 83.2 from 83.9 in the second quarter, but was up from 79.8 a year ago.

Statewide, overall confidence was 90.5 in the third quarter, compared with 92.1 in the second quarter and 88.6 a year ago. Current confidence fell slightly to 97 from 97.4 in the second quarter, but was up from 93.2 a year ago. Future confidence fell to 86.4 from 88.8 in the second quarter, but was up from 85.6 in the third quarter last year.

Nationally, overall consumer confidence was 95.1 in the third quarter, unchanged from the second quarter, but up from 91.2 a year ago. Current confidence fell to 111.7 from 112.5 in the second quarter, while future confidence rose to 84.4 from 83.9 in the second quarter.

“Consumer sentiment fell slightly in New York for the second straight quarter after reaching a 16-year high in March,” SCRI founding director Doug Lonnstrom said in a statement.

Despite a decline across nearly every demographic measured, confidence scores remained at or above the equilibrium point where optimism and pessimism balance, Lonnstrom noted.

Buying plans among consumers statewide were up for vehicles and furniture, while plans to purchase consumer electronics, houses and major home improvements fell.

Among upstate consumers, some 45 percent say gas prices are having a somewhat or very serious effect on their wallets, up from 30 percent in the second quarter. Fifty-six percent say food prices are a serious problem, compared with 52 percent in the second quarter. Statewide, 36 percent of consumers say gas prices are a financial concern, while 56 percent say food prices are having an impact on their finances.

“Concern about gas prices increased sharply, up by nine points, due no doubt to rising prices after hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico,” Lonnstrom said. “Food price concerns, while stable, continue to be a worry to well over half of all New Yorkers, including two-thirds of our lowest income neighbors.”

Consumer confidence was best among those in the highest income bracket, while those in the lower income bracket reported the lowest overall confidence in the quarter.

Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email madams@bridgetowermedia.com.

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