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ECONOMY

Upstate NY consumers wary of rising gas, food costs

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While overall consumer sentiment is recovering slightly in New York state, the rising price of gas and groceries is putting a damper on the outlook of many consumers — especially upstaters.

According to the latest poll by the Siena College Research Institute, the state Index of Consumer Sentiment now stands at 73.1, up 1.2 points from the last measurement in the third quarter of 2021. The state’s overall consumer sentiment is 5.7 points above the national index of 67.4. The overall and future indexes for the each increased this quarter and New Yorkers are more optimistic about overall and future economic conditions than the nation as a whole.

At the same time, 61 percent (up from 54 percent) of all New Yorkers say that current gasoline prices are having a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their financial condition and 72 percent (up from 66 percent) indicate that the amount of money they spend on groceries is having either a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their finances.

“After a precipitous fall in the 3rd quarter, consumer sentiment rose by a point as New Yorkers balance an ongoing decline in their current economic situation with an uptick in their long-range outlook," SCRI Director Don Levy said in a press release. "Most noteworthy are concerns over the bite that gas and food are taking out of the budget as inflation has generated concerns over gasoline prices that we haven’t seen since March of 2013 and food price worries not matched since July of 2011. These sticker shocks, felt especially hard by Upstaters, women and older residents, have driven New Yorkers’ current outlook back to just about the low we saw at the pandemic’s start. Only faith in a better tomorrow which rose to equal where we stood a year ago resulted in the one-point overall index increase."

In the fourth quarter of 2021, buying plans were up from the third quarter of 2021 measurement for homes to 10.4% (from 10.1%) and major home improvements to 25.0% (from 24.2%). Buying plans were down for cars/truck to 16.9% (from 19.1%), consumer electronics at 43.5% (from 45.5%), and furniture to 28.0% (from 30.1%).

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