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Florida consumers aren't more confident, but they're expecting bargains

Florida consumers are still worried about the recession, though they're buoyed by huge buying opportunities this season, a new University of Florida survey finds.

"Consumers are more optimistic this month about their current personal finances and less optimistic about the U.S. economy in both the short and long term," said Chris McCarty, survey director of UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

"They remain bullish on buying opportunities and are likely to be even more optimistic when they see the drastically lower prices in the coming months from retailers trying to boost holiday sales among the most cautious U.S. consumers since the Great Depression."

Overall, the UF survey found consumer confidence flat at 72 in October.

Retailers are bracing for another disappointing holiday season. Given Florida's reliance on sales taxes to fuel three-fourths of its budget, that could add to the state's fiscal woes.

With decreasing revenues and increasing costs, the state could see a $2.6 billion budget deficit, McCarty projected.

"That will mean increased taxes and fees and certainly more cost-cutting by the Florida Legislature as the spring session unfolds," he said.

UF also downgraded its initial report of September consumer confidence to 72 from 74. McCarty, who had been surprised by the 74 showing last month, said the data were revised to reflect an additional week of interviews.

"The revision downward and the flat reading this month is more in line with what we had been expecting," he said.

The October index was based on 408 interviews. The index is benchmarked to 1966, so a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at jharrington@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8242. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jeffmharrington.

Florida consumers aren't more confident, but they're expecting bargains 10/27/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:37pm]
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