Local Consumer Sentiment High Despite Statewide Drop

Sandra Matthews shops at Sandy's Savvy Chic Resale Boutique in Gainesville, a local business that's seeing good sales despite October's slight drop in consumer confidence in Florida.
Sandra Matthews shops at Sandy’s Savvy Chic Resale Boutique, a Gainesville business that’s seeing good sales despite October’s slight drop in consumer confidence in Florida. Alison Eckerle/ WUFT News

Consumer sentiment may have dipped in October, but Gainesville businesses are staying positive.

Erin Akers, a manager at Sandy’s Savvy Chic Resale Boutique, has seen Gainesville’s economic growth firsthand.

“I feel like business has been picking up pretty well,” said Akers, who has worked at the store for three years.

She added that as far as sales go, there are more good days than bad, and she’s expecting a successful holiday season.

A report released by the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research showed that Floridian consumer sentiment fell overall in October, from 89.0 to 88.8. 

The consumer sentiment index is calculated based on survey responses to five questions: two about consumers’ current  financial conditions and three about future conditions, according to the bureau.

Households with an income less than $50,000 per year saw the largest decrease in consumer sentiment, but households with incomes greater than that saw an increase, according to the report.

Hector Sandoval, the director of the Economic Analysis Program at the bureau, said that the economy is improving overall, but the benefits that come with a strong economy are reaped by high-income households first.

“It will take time for [lower-income households] to reach all these benefits,” he said.

The report cited falling unemployment, stock market success and an improved housing market as reasons for the overall satisfaction with the Florida economy, but Sandoval said more would have to be done for lower-income households to feel financially secure.

“There are too many people in part-time employment,” he said, adding that more people have to be employed and wages have to rise to improve consumer attitudes at lower incomes.

Sandoval said Gainesville’s outlook is especially positive because there are growing opportunities in the education and health care fields.

Seasonal employment isn’t difficult to find this time of year, and one Oaks Mall worker came all the way from Philadelphia to find it here in Gainesville.

“We all gotta make money, you know,” said Dillon Chestnut, who works for RC Toys and Custom Teez. “I’m not really making money for the holiday season, I’m making money just period.”

His outlook for holiday sales is an optimistic one.

“You can’t really look at it like, ‘If I fail, this is it,'” he said. “You’re always going to at least make your money back, unless you’re a horrible salesman. ‘’

As for Sandra Matthews, a Gainesville resident and part-time retail clerk at the Gainesville Community Ministry thrift shop, she said she thinks the local economy is going to thrive.

“I’ve been in Gainesville since ’84, and I think Gainesville’s doing good,’’ she said. “It’s going to be a big Christmas.”

About Alison Eckerle

Alison is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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