Consumer confidence hitting record low in Florida amid coronavirus, UF study shows


FILE – In this April 23, 2020 file photo, a sign is posted on a closed store in North Miami, Fla. Banks trying to submit applications for thousands of small businesses seeking coronavirus relief loans have hit a bottleneck for a second day at the Small Business Administration. Banking industry groups say the SBA’s loan processing system is still unable to handle the volume of loan applications from business owners trying to get aid under the Paychceck Protection Program, part of the government’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid program.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A new report from researchers at the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research found that consumer confidence in the state has taken a nosedive as the economy grapples with impacts of coronavirus.

According to the April Consumer Sentiment Index, Florida’s consumer confidence plummeted 11.2 points from March.

Compared to this time last year, the opinions Floridians have of their own finances has dropped 10.9 points.

“The continued decline in consumer confidence comes as no surprise as large sectors of the economy have remained paralyzed and an increasing number of workers are being furloughed following the efforts to contain the pandemic,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Another area that saw a steep decline was the opinions of whether or not now was a good time for Floridians to buy big-ticket items such as cars or appliances.

Researchers found that consumer’s confidence dropped 28.7 points – from 76 to 47.3 – between March, when unemployment applications weren’t overwhelming the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity website, and April.

Consumer confidence in Florida

Consumer confidence in Florida dropped more thn 11 points between March and April. Hover over the bars to see the exact numbers.

Source: UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research

“When income declines and consumers are more concerned about the economy, they tend to postpone the purchase of big-ticket items,” Sandoval said in the analysis. “Notably, this component of the index reached its lowest level on record since the series began tracking confidence in 1985.”

Buying big-ticket items

Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy big-ticket item like an appliance or a car showed the greatest decline in this month’s analysis.

Source: UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research

The analysis comes as the National Retail Federation reports the biggest decline in sales in recorded history with an 8.7 percent decrease in March sales, exceeding a 4.3 percent decline during the Great Recession.

“COVID-19 has hit the retail industry unevenly,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “This is a market of haves and have-nots. The haves are the stores that remain open with lines out the doors to buy daily necessities while the have-nots are the stores that have closed and are taking the brunt of the impact of the pandemic. These numbers should come as no surprise given the mandated shutdown of our economy to slow the spread of the virus.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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