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.

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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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