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Upstate consumer confidence hits 7-month high

Rochester Business Journal
March 5, 2014

Confidence among upstate consumers climbed for the fourth consecutive month in February, reaching its highest point since July 2013, a monthly survey by the Siena Research Institute shows.

Overall confidence—which includes current and future confidence—among upstate consumers rose to 74.1 last month from 72 in January and 69.9 a year ago. Current confidence was 83, up from 80.7 in January and 73.5 a year ago. Future confidence improved to 68.4 from 66.4 in January and 67.6 in February 2013.

Statewide, overall confidence fell to 76.3 from 77.5 in January and 77.3 a year ago. Current confidence was 77.7, compared with 80 in January and 76.9 a year ago. Future confidence was 75.4, down slightly from 75.9 in January and 77.6 in February 2013.

Nationally, overall consumer confidence improved to 81.6 from 81.2 in January and 77.6 in February 2013. Current confidence was 95.4 last month, down from 96.8 in January, but up from 89 a year ago. Future confidence rose to 72.7 from 71.2 in January and 70.2 a year ago.

“The nation’s numbers were little changed this month, and here in New York we slipped ever so slightly,” SRI founding director Doug Lonnstrom said. “Interestingly, our indices—overall, current and future—all are poised almost exactly on the absolute breakeven point at which optimism and pessimism balance.”

Collectively consumers either are at a crossroads waiting to discover an economic revival or demise, Lonnstrom added.

Democrats reported the strongest overall confidence last month, while Republicans continued to report the weakest.

Some 58 percent of upstate consumers said gasoline prices were having a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their financial conditions, down from 62 percent in January. Sixty-two percent said food prices were having a serious impact on their finances, down from 67 percent the previous month.

Buying plans were up for vehicles last month, while plans to buy consumer electronics, furniture, homes and major home improvements were down among consumers statewide.

The SRI consumer sentiment index was based on calls to nearly 625 residents statewide in February.

(c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail service@rbj.net.


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