Arizonans planning major purchases in near future - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Arizonans planning major purchases in near future

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Posted: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 2:47 pm | Updated: 6:46 pm, Fri Nov 11, 2011.

In what could be a good sign for the economy, a new survey shows that half of Arizonans are planning a major purchase in the next six months.

And a lot of that buying is going to be made by those younger than 35.

The quarterly statewide consumer confidence survey conducted by the Behavior Research Center found that 50 percent of the 700 adults heads of households questioned last month listed at least one large item they intend to buy. That ranges from major kitchen appliances to a new car or truck.

That compares with 44 percent just three months ago.

“These are pretty good indicators, particularly if you believe as I do that consumer buying is ultimately the solution to the economic slump,’’ said pollster Earl de Berge.

“It means people are buying, which generates tax revenue, which generates new inventory demand,’’ de Berge continued. And that, in turn, will force companies to hire.

Those jobs are needed. While Arizona’s jobless rate for September dropped two tenths of a point from August, it still is at 9.1 percent. In September 2007 the figure stood at 3.7 percent.

Arizonans are unsure exactly what the future holds for employment.

The number of people who expect more jobs in six months stands at 24 percent, virtually unchanged from three months earlier, with the plurality — 40 percent — expecting no change at all.

But the people surveyed appear to believe that things will get better for themselves and their families: 22 percent expect household income to be higher in six months, compared with 16 percent a year earlier.

Overall, de Berge said that means two quarters in a row with small upticks in consumer confidence. He said those beliefs, coupled with an increase in anticipated spending, is a sign of better times “unless there’s some big shock to the system.’’

“We should be seeing some holiday buying that’s pretty good, at least equivalent to last year, maybe a little bit stronger,’’ de Berge said.

He pointed out there is an across the board increase in the number of people who predict a major purchase in the next six months.

For example, de Berge found that more than 28 percent of those questioned said they plan to buy some new electronic entertainment or computer equipment worth more than $500, compared to less than 22 percent three months earlier.

And more than 17 percent say they intend to buy a car or truck, versus fewer than 12 percent in the last survey.

The survey, conducted earlier this month, has a margin of error of 3.8 percent.

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