The table to the right provides a statewide comparison of retail taxable sales growth for the 22 Metropolitan Statistical Areas and the state of Florida.
The “index of retail activity” is designed by Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research to provide a measure of retail activity for the various Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) and allow comparisons with other MSA’s over time.
The index is constructed by aggregating the categories of autos and accessories, other durables, tourism and recreation, and consumer nondurables. This grouping represents the bulk of non-investment spending and is analogous to personal consumption. The sum of these four categories is seasonally adjusted and a four month moving average is taken.
The table shows the percentage growth in the “index of retail activity” for the period from 2010 through 2017 for a historic view of consumer spending. Also included is the period from 2016 through 2017 which provides a more forward looking perspective.
From 2010 through 2017, the “index of retail activity” grew 51.7% in the state of Florida. The MSA’s were led by Punta Gorda (north of Fort Myers), Naples, Orlando and Lakeland which all grew over 50% during this period.
Unfortunately, the laggards in growth during this period include Tallahassee, with 28.4% growth. Joining Tallahassee is another college town, Gainesville (30.4%) and North Florida neighbor Pensacola ( 38.1%).
And while Tallahassee ranked 22nd for the period of 2010-2017, the good news is the growth rate of the retail index from 2016-2017 for Tallahassee (3.4%) ranks 13th. This improvement provides hope for the near future, but this hope should be tempered by the fact the growth is still significantly below the state average of 4.7%.
Florida Consumer Sentiment Down Slightly in August
Consumer sentiment among Floridians dropped 1.2 points in August to 96.5. Among the five components that make up the index, one increased and four decreased.
Respondents’ overall views of their personal financial situation now compared with a year ago ticked down one-tenth of a point, from 88.2 to 88.1; however, there was a split by gender, with the reading rising 4.8 points for men but dropping 4.7 points for women.
Opinions about whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket household item such as an appliance dropped one-tenth of a point, from 102.8 to 102.7.
“In the last two months, July and August, Floridians’ perceptions of present economic conditions shifted slightly downward; nonetheless, they remained 2.6 points higher than the average over the last 12 months,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
Expectations of personal finances a year from now increased two points, from 103.8 to 105.8. Anticipated U.S. economic conditions over the next year decreased 1.8 points, from 98.1 to 96.3. Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years showed the largest drop of any reading this month, falling 6.1 points from 95.8 to 89.7. These three components indicate opinions about future economic conditions.
“Most of the pessimism in August stems from negative expectations regarding the national economic conditions in the long run. It might be the case that consumers remember their experience a decade ago when the earliest signs of a weakening economy began to appear, and they may be expecting a repeat of the cycle. This may be reflected in the latest trends of the three ‘expectations’ components of the index,” Sandoval said.