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LI consumer confidence highest since 2008

Arturo Zevila, picking up windows at Home Depot

Arturo Zevila, picking up windows at Home Depot in Hempstead on Thursday, said the improving economy encouraged him in his project. A new poll shows local consumer confidence is gaining. (July 11, 2013) Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Long Islanders are more confident about their immediate financial well-being than at any time in the past 4 1/2 years, according to a poll released Thursday.

The Siena College Research Institute reported its consumer confidence index for Nassau and Suffolk counties was 74.7 points in the April-June period, up 2.1 points from the first three months of 2013.

The index reading was the highest since Siena began gauging consumer attitudes on Long Island in late 2008.

However, the second-quarter reading is still below 76 points, meaning the number of residents who are pessimistic about their economic future is greater than the number who are optimistic.

"Things were pretty good economically in the quarter," Siena pollster Douglas Lonnstrom said, explaining the higher confidence number.

"The stock market has done well, the housing market looks like it's coming back . . . People are feeling better off; certainly more so than when we were in the recession," he said.

Lonnstrom noted consumer confidence was at its lowest -- 55.6 points -- in fall 2008.

Retailers follow confidence indexes because they can signal a willingness among shoppers to open their wallets more frequently. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, both locally and nationwide.

On the Island the number of residents telling Siena they planned in the next six months to purchase a computer/tablet or furniture or start a home-improvement project was up.

The number expecting to buy an automobile or home was down.

At Walt Whitman mall in Huntington Station Thursday, some shoppers said they feel more comfortable spending than they did a year ago.

"I got a better job a few months ago, so things are looking up," said Christine Manzella, 26, a secretary in Melville. "I need to buy clothes for work and some things I really, really need, like a new car."

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