Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Paul Fraughton | The Salt Lake Tribune) “I have confidence in the fact that people are buying gourmet cupcakes, and not just going to [big-box stores]. That shows the consumer is willing to spend money on a higher-end product,” said Leslie Fiet, owner of Mini’s Cupcakes on 800 South between State and Main streets in Salt Lake City and another location in Sugar House.
Utahns’ confidence may have some staying power
Spending » Consumer outlook in state, U.S. spikes to best showing in months.
First Published Sep 25 2012 08:24 am • Last Updated Jan 07 2013 11:31 pm

The confidence of Utah consumers shot this month to the highest level since April and may stay there for the rest of this year, boosted by a brighter hiring outlook, rising stock prices and improvements in the housing market — all of which are leading to stronger-than-expected spending.

Zions Bank said Tuesday that its Consumer Attitude Index increased to 85, a jump of 8.1 points from August. The reading is close to 90, a level that indicates a healthy economy.

Photos
Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"Consumer spending appears to be on the rebound (and) consumer debt has shrunk," said Randy Shumway, CEO of The Cicero Group/Dan Jones and Associates, which prepares the monthly index. "It’s not just that we are seeing an elevation in consumer spending. Consumers’ debt load is such that they could borrow more money and spend more.

Nationally, the Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 70.3. That’s up from last month’s 61.3, which was revised higher. And it’s the highest reading since February, when the economy added 259,000 jobs and many thought business conditions were strengthening.

Both indexes are watched closely because consumer spending drives nearly 70 percent of economic activity. As in past months, they paint different portraits of consumer sentiment. In Utah, optimism about the economy — both now and in the next half-year — is considerably stronger than in other parts of the country. The U.S. index continues to suggest that conditions nationally are lagging. It hasn’t been near 90 since December 2007, when the Great Recession started.

U.S. consumer confidence has fallen five times in the past nine months. By contrast, Utah confidence has been steadier; it’s gone up six times since January. And with overall business conditions and hiring improving, Shumway believes the Utah index in October will be close to September’s reading and could stay elevated through the final three months of 2012.

Shumway’s survey showed consumers were highly optimistic about their outlook over the next six months. The future expectations component of the index increased 6 points, to 95.6. One in four people think more jobs will open up during the period, although near term confidence is more muted. The survey’s present situation component was 69.3 in September. Still, that was up 11.4 points from last month.

In one retail area — gourmet cupcake sales — consumer sentiment has remained upbeat and constant, said Leslie Fiet, owner of Mini’s Cupcakes in Salt Lake City. Despite the vagaries of the economy, customers continue to visit Fiet’s shops on 800 South, between State and Main streets, and at 1751 S. 1100 East in Sugar House.

"I have confidence in the fact that people are buying gourmet cupcakes, and not just going to [big-box stores]. That shows the consumer is willing to spend money on a higher-end product," the former professional photographer said.

Although sales to her retail customers are holding up, corporate sales are down 10 percent to 15 percent this year. Fiet said some big employers have tightened their belts, and not just to save calories.


story continues below
story continues below

"Because the economy was really having issues last year, they’ve budgeted less money this year for food and treats. But based on what we see now, next year should be better," she said.

pbeebe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribpaul



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.