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Consumer Confidence Holds Steady In February

Loudonville, NY (WIBX) – For the second consecutive month, consumer confidence in New York has held steady.

According to Douglas Lonnstrom with the Siena College Research Institute, the levels are still “just below the magical breakeven point where optimism equals pessimism.”

New York isn't the only state seeing higher gas prices. Justin Sullivan, Getty Images.

Lonnstrom says good stock market news, combined with an uptick in jobs bolstered confidence, but a 20 day stretch of rising gas prices, combined with tensions in the Middle East and election season, tempered any possible gains.

“I broke down the February figures between the first half and the second half, and when I looked at the second half, concern about gas prices shot way up,” Lonnstrom said. “So, that looks like it’s going to spill over into March, and that could hurt us. We’re up right around four dollars a gallon now,  if that starts going up around five dollars, that’s going to have a very, very negative impact on consumer confidence.”

Higher gas prices may lead to larger drops in big ticket purchases, including computers, homes and furniture. But Lonnstrom says one big ticket item may actually see an increase in sales.

“We’ve seen this in the past,” Lonnstrom said. “You get a spurt of these gas-efficient cars when gas prices get up over four bucks.  So, if gas prices go up to four or five dollars, I think you will see people move to these more gas-efficient cars.”

Even with possible declines on the horizon, the state’s consumer confidence is up seven points from last year.

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