June 26, 2013

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Article

Utah’s Consumers Continue to Gain Positive Outlook on Economy

Rachel Madison

June 26, 2013


The Consumer Attitude Index in Utah is sitting at its highest level since its inception in January 2011.

The index increased by 0.9 points in June — following a 10 point increase in May — to 87.9 points, and continues to come in higher than the national Consumer Confidence Index, which is currently at 81.4 points.

These indices gauge the degree of optimism for the economy that consumers are expressing through their spending activities. National comparison enables consumers, businesses and policymakers to identify key economic trends in Utah.

The state’s index is tabulated by The Cicero Group and Dan Jones & Associates, and has been released monthly by Zions Bank as a community service to Utahns for the last year and a half.

Randy Shumway, CEO of The Cicero Group and economic adviser to Zions Bank, said the Consumer Attitude Index is showing very positive news for Utah, as well as the nation.

“Utah has consistently done better economically than the rest of the country, but finally, the rest of the country is catching up,” Shumway said. “Last month [in Utah] we had a 10-point jump and this month we went up one point. [This month] the rest of the country went up seven points, meaning the nation had its highest month for the second month in a row in the last five years.”

Shumway said these increases are important because 70 percent of Utah’s economic activity can be directly correlated to consumer spending.

“As people feel, so they spend, and as they spend, so goes the economy,” Shumway said.

One Salt Lake City business has already noticed the effects of an economy that is bouncing back. The Wairhouse Trampoline Park, a family-owned business that provides customers with 15,000 square feet of trampoline area for jumping fun and fitness, has been successful since it opened in November 2012. For this reason, Zions Bank released the results of its most recent Consumer Attitude Index at The Wairhouse Tuesday.

Wairhouse owner Chris Steele said he’s been pleased with the turnout of customers since his park opened.

“In the winter months business picked up, but with summer just starting there’s been a bit of a lull,” he said. “However, parents will spend money on their kids if they feel it’s a worthwhile activity.”

Steele said in addition to consumers being more willing to spend money on recreational activities, keeping up with new marketing trends is also important.

“If you [have a good product] people will spend money, but you also have to get their attention,” Steele said. “You have to get creative and provide incentives. You have to be current with marketing strategies.”

In addition to the Consumer Attitude Index, Zions Bank also reports on the Consumer Pricing Index monthly. In Utah, this index had an increase of 0.3 percent in May compared to 0.2 percent throughout the nation.

“What we saw were price increases in gasoline and housing,” Shumway said. “But we saw a decrease in prices of food at home and away.”

These trends were caused by positive crop yields creating a surplus of food and housing prices increasing due to a balanced supply of inventory for construction. The increase in gasoline prices, up 13 cents a gallon in June in Utah, is not typical as prices tend to plateau around Memorial Day. Shumway said he suspects the prices will start to plateau in July.

In the last 12 months, prices in Utah have increased by 1.5 percent. In comparison, prices have increased by 1.4 percent nationally.

Overall, Shumway said Utah and the nation are looking good when it comes to consumer spending and people feeling confident about the economy.

“We’re on the rebound,” he said. “Things are looking positive. Consumer attitudes are up.”

 

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