Consumer sentiment is higher than last year but remains low on Long Island thanks to the cost of groceries and housing, a report from the Siena College Research Institute says. Credit: Newsday Studios

Long Island consumers are more optimistic about their immediate financial future than they were a year ago but continue to be concerned about the cost of groceries and housing, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The Siena College Research Institute reported its Index of Consumer Sentiment was 74.5 points last month in Nassau and Suffolk counties. That’s higher than in June 2023, when the index was 61.2.

Still, the latest sentiment reading remains below the break-even threshold of 76 points — meaning the number of residents who are pessimistic about their financial outlook is larger than the number who are optimistic, according to Siena pollster Don Levy.

Outside the Walmart store in South Farmingdale, shoppers' comments aligned with the Siena poll results.

"My son and daughter-in-law just moved to Georgia because they couldn't make the down payment for a home on the Island," said Joe Reynolds, 64, a municipal employee who lives in Babylon Village. "The cost of housing is nuts."

Julie Weiss, 79, a retiree from Farmingdale, said, "Sure, things are better than they were a year ago. But that doesn't mean they are good. Food prices are still way too high."

Long Island’s sentiment reading last month is below that for the metropolitan region, which was 79.1 points. Statewide, the index stood at 75.9.

“Statewide consumer sentiment continued to hover right around the break-even point of balanced optimism and pessimism,” said Levy, the pollster.

On Long Island, more than 6 in 10 said the cost of housing and utilities is having either a very serious or a somewhat serious impact on their finances. More than 7 in 10 said the same about their grocery bills.

The responses mirrored those of people across the state and were largely unchanged from a similar poll conducted by Siena in February-March.

“We continue to see Long Islanders expressing concern over housing costs. We’re seeing the same level of concern across the state of New York,” Levy said in an interview.

The latest consumer sentiment index is derived from Siena’s June 17-29 survey of 806 New York State residents, including 109 in Nassau and Suffolk. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the total sample and 11 points for the local sample.

Retailers and economists closely follow polls of consumers because they indicate consumers' willingness to open their wallets. Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of economic activity on Long Island and in the state and nation.

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Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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