Florida consumer confidence drops in March as gas prices rise

Sun Sentinel

Floridians' consumer confidence dropped in March, as gas prices continued to climb, according to a University of Florida survey released Tuesday.

Consumer confidence in Florida dropped two points this month to 74.

"The big drag on consumers will increasingly be gas prices, which have increased more than 15 cents a gallon in the past month," said Chris McCarty, director of UF's Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Consumers, he said, particularly those with lower incomes, will continue to feel the impact if gas prices keep rising.

“The consequences of all this would be a pull-back in consumer spending which would certainly slow the recovery, although not reverse it,” McCarty said.

He also worried that Floridians' drop in confidence is mirroring their pattern a year ago when confidence dropped after two months of optimism -- and kept slipping through August, along with a "pull-back in spending among Floridians."

However, those polled were not all gloomy this month, saying they were financially better now than off  a year ago. Their personal economic well-being increased three points to 62, a post-recession high.

The UF index is bench marked to 1966, so a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2; the highest is 150., 954-356-4404 or Twitter @donnagehrke

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