Marsy Post Leader

October marks the third straight month that the consumer sentiment index has fallen in Florida, according the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. 

The index fell 1.5 points this month, dropping to a mark of 94.3.

“Most of the pessimism in October comes from unfavorable expectations regarding U.S. economic conditions in the short and long run, especially from people with incomes greater than $50,000 and those 60 and older,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Of the five components that make up the index, only one increased while the other four recorded decreases.

Perceptions of one’s personal financial situation  dropped 1.4 points from a year ago, while opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a major household item declined 1.2 points. Those two components reflect the confidence Floridians have in current economic conditions have weakened.  

Floridians anticipated economic conditions in the U.S. over the next year fell 3.2 points, while expectations for the economy over next five years dropped 4.2 points

The only component to show an increase in the October index was in the area of expectations of personal finances a year from now, which increased 2.5 points.

Sandoval says one good sign about Florida’s economy is that it continues to grow and is reaching full employment, which means more jobs than people to fill them. He says that will translate into higher wages for workers.

“The strengthening of the labor market will result in higher wages, which will become the main driver behind income growth for Floridians,” Sandoval said. “Despite declines in past months, consumer sentiment in Florida is higher compared to the same month last year.”

That’s particularly true when it comes to consumers’ perception as to whether it is a good time to buy a major household item. That component of the index rose by 12 points over a year ago.

That’s good news for retailers heading into the holiday shopping season, especially with the National Retail Federation forecasting that holiday retail sales in November and December will increase between 3.6 and 4 percent from last year.

The consumer index was conducted Oct. 1-26 and reflects the responses of 532 individual representing a demographic cross section of Florida. The lowest index possible is a 2, the highest is 150.