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Low Consumer Confidence Hurts Holiday Sales Forecast

October 25, 2011 - 6:00pm

With no consistent signs of economic recovery in the past few months, consumer confidence in Florida has dipped closer to the record low of June 2008, a new University of Florida study reported Wednesday.

And the media may make it worse, Chris McCarty, director of UFs Survey Research Center at the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, stated in a release.

McCarty said it is unknown how the market will react when Congresss joint select committee on deficit reduction -- known as the "supercommittee" -- completes its report. But he expressed concern as to how the media will play the issue.

We must keep in mind that the supercommittee is required to come up with recommendations for budget cuts by Nov. 23 or automatic cuts will be triggered, McCarty stated. Regardless of the outcome, we can expect renewed media coverage similar to the debt-ceiling discussion in August that many consumers found unnerving.

The committee has deadlines of Nov. 23 to come up with a plan to reduce federal spending by $1.5 trillion, and both houses have until Dec. 23 to approve the plan.

On a 100-point scale, Floridas consumer confidence hit 63 in October, down a point from September. The rating is just 4 points above the record low of 59 set in June 2008.

McCarty noted that a bump in national retail sales for the winter holidays may only temporarily aid Florida.

For many retailers this can easily represent 30-to-40 percent of their yearly sales, McCarty stated. With consumer confidence low, most retailers are not expecting a strong holiday season in comparison to 2010, which was much better than 2009.

The National Retail Federation predicts a 2.8 percent increase this holiday season and relatively flat holiday seasonal hiring, he added.

Consumer confidence is designed to help predict buying patterns by measuring the mood of consumers toward purchasing.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (850) 727-0859 or (772) 215-9889.

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