UF survey: Florida consumers increasing confidence in economy, but still skeptical
UF researchers say survey shows Sunshine State consumers are warming to economy. Stock image via Adobe.

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'Looking ahead, given the economic outlook, we expect gradual improvements in consumer sentiment among Floridians in the months ahead.'

Consumer confidence among Floridians is getting more optimistic, according to a new report by University of Florida (UF) economic researchers.

Consumer sentiment improved a bit last month, going from 68.3 in November to 69.5 in December, stated the Consumer Sentiment Index released this week by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at UF. It’s the third month in a row where consumer sentiment improved, according to research surveys conducted by the university.

While confidence overall is improving, Floridians are still skittish about their own economic futures. Their outlook on their personal economic futures decreased in December, according to researchers. Approval of personal financial well-being dropped from 57.3 in November to 56.6 in December.

Consumers are also fickle about their outlooks as many Floridians surveyed said they feel more confident about purchasing large household items such as appliances. That figure increased from 59.1 in November to 61 in December.

Hector Sandoval, director of the Economic Development Program at UF, said Floridians seem mixed about economic indicators in the state.

“Though consumer sentiment among Floridians ended 2023 on a positive note, the annual average consumer confidence stands at 67.9 points for the year. This marks the third-lowest level on record since the series began tracking consumer confidence in 1985,” said Sandoval, who oversaw the survey.

“The lowest on record was 64.3 in 2022, while the second lowest was 65.6 points, dating back to the Great Recession in 2008.”

Much of the hesitance in Florida consumers is rooted in credit interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve in the past two years, Sandoval said. But the Fed has already indicated interest rate decreases are in store for 2024.

“The current economic outlook has led the Fed to hold off on increasing interest rates, with expectations of rate cuts next year. This scenario, characterized by low unemployment, moderated job gains, and easing inflation, aligns with what is referred to as a ‘soft landing,’ where inflation cools without triggering a recession. Importantly, the current economic outlook indicates that 2023 is concluding without a recession,” Sandoval said.

“Looking ahead, given the economic outlook, we expect gradual improvements in consumer sentiment among Floridians in the months ahead,” Sandoval said.

The most recent consumer sentiment survey was conducted by UF researchers from Nov. 1 through Dec. 22. A total of 592 Floridians took part in the survey over telephone or email.

Drew Dixon

Drew Dixon is a journalist of 40 years who has reported in print and broadcast throughout Florida, starting in Ohio in the 1980s. He is also an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at three colleges, Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville. You can reach him at [email protected].

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    January 4, 2024 at 1:22 pm

    Florida’s economy is fixing to implode soon as enough homeowners realize ball handling pro Rhonda wrecking balled their home values.

    I suppose Rhonda will think that’s a good thing. He’ll be able to knock the Biden ticket with declining home values in Florida, but no other state, blaming (who else) “Giggles”

    LOL @ Home Wrecking Rhonda

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