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Consumer confidence around Florida rose in November

A monthly survey by University of Florida researchers found Floridians feeling more optimistic about their personal finances and the economy in general.

Recession? What recession?

Floridians’ felt better about their finances and business conditions during November, according to a new survey from the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research. And what improved the most was how they expect the economy to look a year from now.

“Consumer sentiment in Florida remains high, and November’s reading is higher than the average of the last 12 months,” Hector H. Sandoval, director of the bureau’s economic analysis program, said in announcing the survey results.

For the monthly survey, researchers called a demographic cross-section of 504 Floridians on their cell phones. Compared with October, the number of optimistic responses they got went up when people were asked:

• How they felt about their finances now compared with a year ago.

• What they expect their personal finances to be like a year from now.

• What they expect the U.S. economy to be like in five years.

• Whether this is a good time to make a big household purchase like an appliance.

“November was definitely busier than October,” said Laura Greco, whose family owns APSCO Appliance Center in Largo. “We we were up a little bit over the previous November.”

Snowbirds drive a lot of business from roughly October through April, Greco said, and in appliance retailing Black Friday deals start earlier in the month. A lot of customers recognize that, so they might wait until November if they want to replace a working appliance. Or, if they have to replace something that doesn’t work in November, they might buy other new appliances, too.

“We sell a lot of packages in November,” Greco said Monday.

Every month, University of Florida researchers use the survey results to measure consumer confidence against a historical index that ranges from 2 (the bleakest possible score) to 150 (the most hopeful). After dropping slightly in October, the index for November rose a little more than three points from 96.1 to 99.3.

A survey of Floridians in November found consumer confidence higher than the average of the preceding 12 months. [University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research]

That sunnier outlook is similar to a similar uptick in consumer confidence found in a monthly national survey by the University of Michigan. Another assessment by the nonprofit Conference Board reported a slight decline in consumer confidence, which it said remained high overall.

While consumer spending continues to boost the national economy, manufacturing remains in a funk, according to the November survey from the nonprofit Institute for Supply Management. Economic activity in manufacturing contracted for the fourth straight month in November, the institute said, with declines in index measures of new orders, employment, inventories and export orders.

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In the Florida survey, the biggest increase in consumer confidence came when pollsters asked what Floridians expect the economy to be like next year. Positive responses rose a little more than 7 points to 97.5 for the category. And there may be more to come.

“Looking ahead to the coming months, in view of the realized economic outlook in Florida, we anticipate consumer sentiment to remain high,” Sandoval said.