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LI consumers' economic outlook mixed in 3Q

Although consumer confidence on Long Island fell during

Although consumer confidence on Long Island fell during the summer, it remains near the record high recorded last spring. The numbers could mean a pickup in holiday sales. (May 31, 2012) Photo Credit: AP File

Consumer confidence on Long Island dipped during the summer but remains near spring's record high.

The Siena College Research Institute said Wednesday its confidence index for Nassau and Suffolk counties was 70.2 points in the July-September period, down 3.3 from April-June.

The local index was 61.8 points a year ago. Readings below 76 indicate the number of people who are pessimistic about their economic well-being is greater than those who are optimistic.

Siena pollster Douglas Lonnstrom said, "In a quarter where the trend changed direction, we got mixed results. July and August numbers weakened but September was strong."

The institute's monthly confidence index for the metropolitan area, which includes Long Island, hit a five-year high of 82.5 points in September. "The tone in every area [of the state] is up from the fall of 2011, which points to the likelihood of an improved holiday buying season this year," Lonnstrom said.

The local index, begun in late 2008, was highest in April-June at 73.5.

Retailers follow confidence measures because they indicate the willingness of shoppers to open their wallets.

When asked about big-ticket purchases between now and March 2013, Long Islanders said they were more likely than in the spring to buy an automobile. They said they were less likely to buy a home or computer or start a major home improvement project. Plans to buy furniture were unchanged from the spring.

Outside the Sears store in Garden City Wednesday, some shoppers said they expected to spend more on holiday gifts this year than last.

Liz White, a retiree from Mineola, said, "I'm feeling better about things, so I think I will be a little more generous. I cut back before because the economy was so bad."

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