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Upstate consumer lags rest of state and nation, survey finds

Rochester Business Journal
March 6, 2013

Confidence among upstate consumers remained stable in February, but continued to lag both statewide and national numbers, a monthly survey by the Siena Research Institute shows.

Overall confidence—which includes current and future confidence—was 69.9, up from 68.3 in January, but down from 71.9 a year ago. Current confidence was 73.5, compared with 72.4 in January and 76.9 in February 2012. Future confidence rose to 67.6 last month from 65.7 in January, but fell from 68.6 a year ago.

Statewide, overall confidence was 77.3 last month, compared with 74.5 in January and 74.8 in February 2012. Current confidence increased to 76.9 from 74.3 in January and 73.5 a year ago. Future confidence was 77.6 in February, compared with 74.7 in January and 75.7 a year ago.

Nationally, overall confidence was 77.6 last month, up from 73.8 in January and 75.3 a year ago. Current confidence rose to 89 from 85 in January and 83 a year ago. Future confidence was 70.2, compared with 66.6 in January and 70.3 in February 2012.

Democrats statewide continued to report the highest overall confidence last month, while Republicans continued to report the lowest confidence.

“Although February’s news was replete with dire sequester prophesies, consumer sentiment rebounded both in New York and across the nation,” SRI founding director Douglas Lonnstrom said.

Lonnstrom noted that statewide the overall index of consumer sentiment is again above the breakeven point at which there is as much optimism as pessimism.

Some 70 percent of upstate consumers said gas prices are having a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their financial condition, compared with 64 percent in January. Seventy-two percent said food prices are having a serious impact on their finances, unchanged from January.

Buying plans were up for vehicles, computers and homes in February, while plans to purchase furniture and major home improvements fell.

The SRI consumer sentiment index was based on calls to more than 800 residents statewide last month.

(c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail service@rbj.net.


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