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Fla. Consumer Sentiment ‘Soared’ Higher in June

UF: Fla. confidence plummeted during the pandemic and remained low until this month. While still below early 2020 levels, optimism rebounded in June, and the number of Floridians who think it’s a good time to buy big-ticket items surged 18.6 points – from 58.2 to 76.8.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After a marginal gain in May, consumer sentiment among Floridians soared 6.1 points in June to 82.7 – an increase from May’s revised figure of 76.6. That increase is higher than the national consumer sentiment increase of 5.8 points, according to the University of Florida’s (UF) monthly survey.

Among the five components that make up the index, four increased and one decreased.

Current conditions: Floridians’ opinions of their personal finances now compared with a year ago increased slightly, eight-tenths of a point from 69.3 to 70.1. These opinions are split across sociodemographic groups; men, people older than 60, and people with an annual income above $50,000 expressed more favorable views while women, people younger than 60, and people with an annual income under $50,000 expressed less favorable views.

Opinions as to whether it’s a good time to buy a big-ticket item, such as refrigerators, cars or furniture, showed the greatest increase in this month’s reading, surging 18.6 points from 58.2 to 76.8 – and these favorable views are shared by all Floridians. It was even stronger among men, people younger than 60, and people with an annual income above $50,000.

Future expectations: Floridians’ expectations about future economic conditions were mixed. On one hand, perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago decreased 3.6 points from 99.3 to 95.7.

On the other hand, outlooks about expected national economic conditions showed an important increase. Over the next year, expectations about U.S. economic conditions rose 7.5 points, from 72 to 79.5. The outlook of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years increased 7.6 points from 84 to 91.6, and both readings were shared by all Floridians with the exception of people older than 60.

“When consumers feel more optimistic about their economic prospects, they are more comfortable increasing their spending, particularly on big-ticket items,” says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

“Coupled with the fact that businesses around Florida were allowed to reopen and operate at an increased capacity in June, the increase in consumer confidence is a positive sign for the state’s economy,” Sandoval adds.

While confidence increased in June, however, it hasn’t reached the levels seen early in 2020 before the pandemic spread, when scores were about 20 points higher.

“Nonetheless, as weekly claims of unemployment benefits continue mounting up, with almost one million of continued claims reported in the first weeks of June and a record unemployment rate of 14.5% in May, Florida’s economic recovery looks poised to be a prolonged effort,” Sandoval says.

Sandoval also predicts another drop in confidence in July’s report as “a record number of cases are reported in Florida … and with the state starting to roll back some of their reopening plans.”

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