Consumer confidence on Long Island dipped in the first three months of the year compared with late 2012, as the economy remained sluggish and gridlock persisted in Washington.

The Siena College Research Institute said Wednesday its confidence index for Nassau and Suffolk counties stood at 72.6 points in the January-March period, down 1 point from October-December 2012. Consumer confidence dropped in every region of the state.

The Island continues to be one of the regions where the number of people who are pessimistic about their financial well-being exceeds the number who are optimistic in Siena polls. Any index reading below 76 points indicates pessimists outnumber optimists.

"Consumers . . . again see more dark clouds than sunshine," said Siena pollster Douglas Lonnstrom.

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 to purchase an automobile or home in the next six months was up, quarter over quarter.

The number expecting to buy a computer or start a major home improvement project was down. The number planning to purchase furniture was unchanged.

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At the Westfield Sunrise mall in Massapequa Wednesday, some shoppers said they were holding back on purchases because of worries about the economy.

Donna Rizzo, a retiree from Amityville, said she didn't have confidence that President Barack Obama and Congress would reach agreement on federal spending and the deficit. She said, "All they seem to be able to do is argue, and that's going to cause the stock market to crash and start another recession."