Sandy expected to alter consumers' buying plans

Two boys view damage in a neighborhood in Two boys view damage in a neighborhood in the Breezy Point area of Queens in New York after fire destroyed about 80 homes as a result of Hurricane Sandy. (Oct. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Metro area consumers' buying plans were probably altered by superstorm Sandy, a prominent pollster said Friday.

"Sandy's destruction . . . will necessitate consumer spending as New Yorkers and New York-area residents rebuild and recover from nature's fury," said Douglas Lonnstrom, founder of the Siena College Research Institute, based in an Albany suburb.

In a survey conducted before the Oct. 29 superstorm, Siena said its confidence index for Long Island, New York City and the northern suburbs was 80.6 points in October. The 1.9-point drop from September was partly due to worries about rising food prices.

A reading above 76 points indicates the number of people who are optimistic about their economic well-being exceeds those who are pessimistic.

The number of area residents saying food prices were either "somewhat or a very serious problem" rose to 67 percent, up from September's 64 percent.

The previous high point was July, when 68 percent said grocery prices were problematic.

Retailers closely follow consumer confidence because it indicates the willingness of people to open their wallets.

Statewide, the number of residents saying they planned to buy a computer in the next six months hit a five-year high. That "bodes well for holiday spending as the election season gives way to decorations, parties and giving," Lonnstrom said.

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