Florida Consumer Confidence Flat, Near Record Lows

Image creator Stuart Miles, courtesy of Free Digital Photos.
TAMPA (2011-11-30) -

Floridians are feeling about the same as they did last month when it comes to the economy. Consumer confidence in the state is flat at near record lows according to a new monthly survey from the University of Florida.

Chris McCarty, director of U.F.’s Survey Research Center, said Florida is different from other states because it’s economy is much more dependent on growth in the housing market which is driven mostly by retirees.

“One thing we had with this past recession that has so far not changed much is that retirees have slowed their migration to Florida,” McCarty said. “And that affects housing and building and all those jobs around that.”

McCarty said consumer confidence may appear to be healthier because so many people went shopping on "Black Friday," but experts don't expect that buying surge to last.

“A lot of analysts are wondering whether or not consumers are going to keep up this pace,” McCarty said. “It may be a repeat of 2008 where lots and lots of folks came out for Black Friday they made their purchases and that was that.”

He said for a holiday season to be considered successful, sales should be 4 to 5 percent above last year’s. McCarty and most analysts predict buying in the 2011 holiday season will grow less than 3 percent.

McCarty’s November survey showed Floridians’ consumer confidence is level, virtually the same as last month, but it remains near record lows due to uncertainty about jobs and the troubled housing market. Yet, there’s one bright spot.

“Tourism has made a bit of a comeback in Florida and is sort of carrying the day,” McCarty said adding that the new jobs added in October were in leisure and hospitality.

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