It has been a rocky few months for the economy, but people in New York remain optimistic, according to the Siena College Research Institute’s latest Consumer Sentiment poll.
According to poll results, you might sum up consumer sentiment in the fourth quarter of 2018 in three words: "it's all good." Pollster Don Levy: "It may come as a surprise, but consumer sentiment, consumer confidence, remains very strong across the state of New York, and in fact it appears as though when we asked people 'do you intend to buy major items, cars, homes, home improvements over the next six months?' The buying plans appear very robust. In fact it appears as though there's a significant amount of pent-up demand. For example almost one in four New Yorkers say they're going to be out looking for an automobile here in the first six months of 2019. So despite the constant discussion of stock market volatility, of course the survey was taken prior to the government shutdown, but there is continuing confidence in the marketplace."
Levy believes the recent roller-coaster stock market seems to be having little impact on average consumers. "We have a headline drama being played out on Wall Street which appears to be, if not irrational, it seems to be outside of the daily lives of most people. The market can be up 5, 600 points one day, down 5,6,700 points the next day... The average person is insulated themselves from that and they're looking at their job, their job stability, their family budget, and within that realm, they remain pretty confident."
Levy notes 31 percent of New Yorkers still say that they were worse off a year ago than they are today, but compared to five or 10 years ago, consumers are in a very strong position. "When we asked people 'do you think that the coming year is gonna be a strong economic year, a weak economic year or about the same, right now we find that 51 percent, so a majority across the state of New York, expect good business conditions in 2019."
Downtown Albany Business Improvement District Executive Director Georgette Steffens says local business leaders are enjoying good times, having ended 2018 on a "really high note." "The Fort Orange General Store, on Small Business Saturday, had their best day ever since they've been open. I know that Lodge's Department Store, they have been growing year over year 20 to 30 percent each year, so business continues to be strong. The Pearl Street Pub had their best New Year's Eve that they've ever had since they've been open as well. People are coming into downtown, they're spending locally and really enjoying all that our community has to offer."
Levy says that spending mentality is in high-gear with no sign of letting up. "We asked people 'do you think this is a good time to buy the large-ticket items that people buy for their homes, whether that be furniture, appliances, so on and so forth?' 66 percent, that's a really high number, 66 percent say 'yup, I think that this is a good time.' Buyers right now feel as though, 'I feel secure in my personal economic picture and I think it's a good time to buy, I think there's value out there in the marketplace.' So I think what we're seeing in the everyday economics of New York state, we're looking for a strong start to 2019."
This Siena College Poll was conducted December 2-6, 2018 by random telephone calls to 500 New York adults via landline and cell phones and 406 responses drawn from a proprietary online panel of New Yorkers. Respondent sampling via phone was initiated by asking for the youngest male in the household. The overall results has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points including the design effects resulting from weighting when applied to buying plans and/or the perceived impacts of gas and food prices. As consumer sentiment is expressed as an index number developed after statistical calculations to a series of questions, “margin of error” does not apply to those indices. Telephone sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample of landline and cell phone telephone numbers (both from ASDE Survey Sampler) from within New York State weighted to reflect known population patterns. Data from the telephone and web samples were blended and statistically adjusted by age, race/ethnicity and gender to ensure representativeness. The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in NYS. SCRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.