Holiday spending during November and December is expected to exceed over $1 trillion nationally because of positive consumer attitudes. Economists are expecting similar trends in Utah with 70 percent of the state’s consumers planning to spend more this year.
“We’re one of the most diverse economies in the country, we’re one of the fastest growing economies in the country,” said Randy Shumway, founder and chairman of Cicero Group and economic advisor to Zions Bank. “In the Zion’s Bank study, we found that 64 percent of Utahns indicate they believe business conditions are good. That’s the highest level recorded since Zion’s Bank started to measure consumer confidence in Utah.”
Why are consumers feeling so confident? Shumway said 63 percent of Utahns believe jobs are plentiful and 64 percent believe business conditions are positive.
“By all accounts, it looks like Utahns are ringing in this holiday season with this overall spirit of economic optimism which is a really positive sign for our local retailers,” Shumway said.
When consumer attitudes are trending up, people don’t wait to buy that new refrigerator, TV or car. Shumway said the average Utah household plans to spend over $1,100 during the holiday season and that stimulates economic activity.
“It creates jobs for the retailers, for the transportation company, for the attorneys, for the manufacturers and so forth,” Shumway said. “It’s a positive compounding cycle.”
There is still room for improvement when it comes to Utah’s economy according to Shumway. He said affordable housing is hard to come by with increasing mortgage rates and housing prices. If you do own a home, it’s a smart investment but for people trying to get into the housing market, it’s hard to balance.
“You want both,” Shumway said. “You want housing prices to continue to escalate, it makes housing a really smart investment, but you simultaneously want to create mechanisms by which first-time homebuyers are able to get into the market.”
Shumway said positive consumer attitude trends are expected to continue into next year.