Many Arkansans are looking forward to purchasing a “big ticket” household item during the second half of 2015 as many have seen their personal financial situation improve this year, according to the spring edition of the 2015 Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey released Tuesday (June 2).
“More Arkansas consumers are expecting to maintain or improve their personal financial situations within the year,” said Kathy Deck, Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. “This uptick in outlook is consistent with growth in the labor force and declines in unemployment throughout the state. Arkansans are a bit more cautious about making optimistic predictions for the overall economy, but are still more positive than in previous surveys.”
This is the second phase of Arvest’s series of consumer sentiment surveys that offer a reading of how Arkansans and consumers in neighboring states are feeling about their current financial situation. Earlier this month, the first phase of the Arvest survey showed that consumer confidence in Arkansas had jumped more than ten points since October, mainly because of the state’s improving employment and income situation, and lower gas prices.
In the most recent survey conducted in March, 30% of Arkansas consumers expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next 12 months, up 4% from the previous survey in October. Fifty-five percent, meanwhile, expect it to remain the same over the next 12 months. That’s up from 54% in October.
The other states surveyed were Oklahoma and Missouri, along with the Kansas City metropolitan area. Across the region, 53% expect their personal financial situation to stay the same, while 33% expect it to improve.
When it came to determining buying conditions, 56% of Arkansans believe the next six months will be a good time to buy items like furniture, televisions and refrigerators. That’s eight points better than 48% who were looking to make a major household buying decision in October.
By comparison, 59% of the entire region believes the next six months will be a good time to buy, up 18% since the last survey in the fall.
On the overall economy, Arkansans felt slightly better in March than they did in October about current business conditions. While 29% expected good times for businesses over the next year, 39% expected the same over the next five years. That compares to 23% and 32%, respectively, in October.
Expectations for the region as a whole were also much higher. Thirty-four percent of consumers across the region expect good times for businesses over the next year, while 42% expect robust economic growth over the next five years. Those percentages are up a whopping 36% and 16.7%, respectively, compared to October.
The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, modeled after the national consumer sentiment survey released monthly by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, is conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. The University of Oklahoma’s Public Opinion Learning Laboratory conducted the 1,200 random phone surveys.
The current survey will be conducted twice a year, with the next survey expected to be completed in September 2015. With each study, the index score will be released first, followed by a second release on consumer outlook including the Current Conditions Index and the Consumer Expectations Index and a third release on savings and spending expectations.