UF Economists: Florida Consumer Confidence Surges To New Record High
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumer confidence in Florida soared in February to the highest point in the 16-year history of the index, despite rising gasoline prices and a falling stock market, University of Florida economists report.
The preliminary index for February climbed three points since January to 110, said Chris McCarty, survey director with UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. The previous record was 108 last February.
“If [Fed Chairman] Alan Greenspan is counting on the falling stock market or rising oil prices to cool off household spending, Florida’s consumers have bad news for him,” said UF economist Dave Denslow.
“With stock ownership more widespread than ever, you would expect the 15 percent drop in the Dow since the first of the year to make the affluent pause,” he said. “And earlier episodes of rising gasoline prices have restrained those with lower incomes. But neither group feels any concern today. An overwhelming majority of our respondents say now is a good time for major purchases, and few are worried about their finances during the coming year.”
Among the five components for the Florida confidence index, the largest gain was in respondents’ comparing their personal financial situation today to a year ago, which rose to 107 in February, up from 98 in January, McCarty said.
The only decline was in expected national economic conditions over the coming year, which fell to 111 from 116. The other components all rose: expected national economic conditions during the next five years, expected personal financial situation during the coming year, and whether now is a good time for major purchases.
The upswing in confidence prevailed among nearly all population groups, McCarty said.
The bureau conducts the Florida Consumer Attitude Survey monthly. Respondents are 18 or older and live in households telephoned randomly. The preliminary index for February was calculated from 526 responses. Numbers for prior months are based on about 1,000 residents. The margin of error for the index is 3 percent.
Consumer confidence is designed to help predict buying patterns by measuring consumers’ mood toward buying. Although other economic indicators also are predictors of buying patterns, consumer confidence tends to be available sooner than those indicators.
- Cathy Keen, firstname.lastname@example.org, (352) 392-0186
- Chris McCarty