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Upstate consumer confidence falls, trails nation

Upstate consumer confidence falls, trails nation

Confidence among upstate consumers continued to lag that of the nation and of the rest of New York State, a quarterly report from Siena College Research Institute shows.

Overall confidence, which includes current and future confidence, among upstate consumers in the fourth quarter dropped to 88.4 from 92.3 in the third quarter. Current confidence fell to 95.5 from 100.4, while future confidence tumbled to 83.9 from 87.1 in the third quarter. Upstate consumer confidence was slightly higher a year ago, SCRI data shows.

Source: Siena College Research Institute
Source: Siena College Research Institute

Overall consumer confidence statewide improved slightly to 93.9 from 93.6 in the third quarter and 92.3 a year ago. Current confidence was 99.3, compared with 98.5 in the third quarter, while future confidence was unchanged at 90.5 in the fourth quarter.

Overall confidence nationally fell to 98.3 in the fourth quarter from 100.1 in the third quarter, but was up from 95.9 a year ago. Current confidence nationwide was 116.1, compared with 115.2 in the third quarter, while future confidence fell to 87 from 90.5 in the previous quarter.

“Despite stock market volatility, consumer sentiment among New Yorkers remains robust,” SCRI Director Don Levy said in a statement. “The index continues in the low to mid 90s, displaying far more optimism than pessimism across New York.”

Levy noted that 51 percent of respondents to the quarterly survey expect good business conditions in 2019, while 34 percent anticipate bad times.

“Looking back, as we often do as the calendar changes, we remember five years ago when an index of 74 measured sentiment right at the breakeven point, and 10 years ago when at an index of 58, we were worried about economic collapse,” Levy said. “Thirty-one percent of New Yorkers still say that they were worse off a year ago than they are today, but compared to five or 10 years ago, consumers are in a very strong position.”

Consumers in the highest income bracket of $100,000 or more continued to report the highest overall confidence in the fourth quarter, while those age 55 or more reported the lowest at 87.

Buying plans in the fourth quarter were up in each of the consumer segments, including vehicles, consumer electronics, furniture, homes and major home improvements.

“Two-thirds of New Yorkers say that this is a good time to buy the big items that consumers purchase and it looks like many will do just that,” Levy said. “Nearly one in four plan to buy a car or truck in the coming six months, half will buy electronics and nearly one in eight intend to purchase a home.”

Some 44 percent of upstate consumers continue to say gas prices are a somewhat serious or very serious problem, up from 41 percent in the third quarter. Food prices also are of concern; 60 percent of upstate consumers said food prices were a problem, up from 53 percent in the previous quarter.

The Siena College poll was conducted in early December via random phone calls to 500 adults statewide.

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