Consumer confidence is up, just in time for the holidays

PHOENIX – Consumer confidence in Maricopa County and several other Arizona counties rose this year, according to a Rocky Mountain Poll.

The poll, conducted by the Behavior Research Center, shows consumer confidence in Maricopa County rose more than 10 points in October of this year compared to October last year, to 98.7 points from 88.5 points.

Sarah Bingham, who owns clothing store Antique Sugar in downtown Phoenix, said that feeling is turning into sales. She migrated her business from an online shop on Etsy to a physical store in central Phoenix in 2010. She moved to the downtown store about 1 1/2 years ago.

“We’ve definitely seen an uptake this month, especially this last weekend – Black Friday weekend,” Bingham said.

Pima County also saw an increase in consumer confidence of about 14 points and rural areas saw just over a seven point increase year over year, the poll showed.

Dr. Dennis Hoffman, a professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, said consumer confidence is recovering from its financial fever.

“Arizona’s had a long, difficult challenge with the Great Recession,” Hoffman said. “It’s been a slow but steady march up, but over the last year we’ve seen some significant warming in confidence. I think confidence will continue to march up.”

The surge in confidence is likely to bring more people into stores and online during the holiday season.

A record-breaking 44 percent of shoppers went online over the Thanksgiving weekend and 40 percent shopped in-store, according to the National Retail Federation. Adobe Digital Insights estimated $3.45 billion in sales came in on Cyber Monday, perhaps the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history.

Researchers say if consumer confidence continues to rise it may be a hopeful sign that Arizona’s economy is on the upswing.