Softening Current Economic Outlook Slows Consumer Sentiment

Grocery aisle

Softening Current Economic Outlook Slows Consumer Sentiment; New Yorkers Far More Upbeat than a Year Ago But Trail Nation by 11 Points
Buying Plans Remain High; Cars, Homes, Furniture Should see Active Quarters Ahead
Rising Prices Fuel Concerns at Gas Pump; Food Costs Continue to Worry Most NY’ers

Loudonville, NY – The New York State Index of Consumer Sentiment in June stands at 84.6 down 1.8 points from the last measurement in March 2015, according to the latest poll by the Siena (College) Research Institute (SRI). New York’s overall Index of Consumer Sentiment is 11.5 points below the nation’s* Index of 96.1. All three indexes for both the nation and New York are above their breakeven points at which optimism and pessimism balance.

“Consumer sentiment slid backwards by a couple of points this quarter while nationally the index rose by three. The Empire State now trails the nation by over 11 points. But, compared to a year ago, New Yorkers are far more positive about their current condition than they were in 2014, and significantly more optimistic about their personal prospects as well as both the short and long-term future of the state’s economy,” according to Dr. Lonnstrom, professor of statistics and finance at Siena College and SRI Founding Director.

In June, buying plans were up since the March 2015 measurement for furniture, at 26.3% (from 22.5%). Buying plans were down for consumer electronics, to 36.6% (from 40.6%), and homes, at 7.0 (from 8.1%), and major home improvements, at 18.8% (from 19.6%). Buying plans remained unchanged for cars/trucks, at 18.9%.
“Consumer buying plans fell slightly this quarter for homes and electronics but rose strongly for furniture and remained unchanged for cars and trucks. Still, when you look at where demand has lanquished for years, auto, home and furniture sales should be quite brisk. Today’s consumers plan to buy at rates 32 to 69 percent greater than where we’ve grown accustomed over the past five years,” Dr. Lonnstrom said.

Forty-one percent of all New Yorkers say that current gasoline prices are having a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their financial condition. Sixty-five percent of state residents indicate that the amount of money they spend on groceries is having either a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their finances. Thirty-six percent of state residents say that both gasoline and food prices are having either a somewhat or very serious impact on their finances.

“Increasing gas prices drove fuel concerns four points higher this quarter while nearly two-thirds remain worried about the effect grocery costs are having on their budget,” Dr. Lonnstrom said.

This Siena College Poll was conducted June 1-28, 2015 by telephone calls conducted in English to 811 New York State residents. Respondent sampling was initiated by asking for the youngest male in the household. It has an overall margin of error of + 3.4 percentage points including the design effects resulting from weighting when applied to buying plans and/or the perceived impacts of gas and food prices. As consumer sentiment is expressed as an index number developed after statistical calculations to a series of questions, “margin of error” does not apply to those indices. Sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample provided by Survey Sampling International of landline and cell phone telephone numbers from within New York State weighted to reflect known population patterns. Data was statistically adjusted by age, region, gender and race/ethnicity to ensure representativeness. The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in NYS. SRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. For more information or comments, please call Dr. Doug Lonnstrom, SRI’s Founding Director, at 518-783-2362. Survey cross-tabulations and buying plans can be found at www.siena.edu/sri/cci.

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