An indicator of an economic rebound as the country begins to return to normal following the coronavirus pandemic is consumer confidence, and it went up in April for the second straight month in Florida.
Consumer sentiment among Floridians increased from a revised 81.3 points in March to 83 points in April, according to University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research data released Tuesday. Officials with the bureau say the two-month trend is a slow but sure turnaround from the depths of the pandemic as the outbreak of COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the state’s economy.
“Consumer sentiment dropped at an unprecedented rate in the second quarter of 2020, when it tumbled 26 points between February and April. One year since, consumer confidence remains 19.3 points below pre-pandemic levels, indicating that confidence has recovered at a slow pace,” said Hector Sandoval, director of the UF research bureau.
Several key economic indicators in the state show Floridians are more confident about spending. Perceptions about current personal finance showed more optimism as that figure ticked up from 68.4 in March to 72.6 in April. Optimism about the future economic outlook also improved as the view of personal finances a year from now went from 90.6 to 92.3 in April.
There is still some reluctance about big money spending among Floridians, though. Sentiment about spending on big-ticket items such as vehicles and home appliances fell off in April dropping from 77.8 in March to 76.7.
Sandoval said it’s natural for some hesitancy to remain among Florida consumers given the coronavirus pandemic was such a dramatic event. But things are starting to move in the right economic direction.
“Overall, Floridians are more optimistic in April. The increase in consumer confidence is fueled by improvements in Floridians’ personal financial situations now compared with a year ago, which largely reflects the impact of the federal stimulus payments,” Sandoval said.
Consumer sentiment data was compiled by UF researchers April 1-29 by conducting surveys with 323 Floridians on cellphones and through email.