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Siena poll: Consumers buying big

The so-called economic slump could be starting to straighten out according to results from a Siena Research Institute poll last month that indicated consumers are not only buying more lately, but buying bigger items.

The consumer confidence index poll is taken monthly, utilizing data from about 600 New Yorkers from throughout the state according to Douglas Lonnstrom, founding director of the Siena Research Institute.

According to Lonnstrom, the SRI has been conducting the index every month since January of 1999 and its results are used by the Federal Reserve Board and New York State Comptroller's Office.

In the survey, people are chosen at random and asked whether in the next six months they are planning to buy a particular item. Those numbers are then compared to surveys past and used in a mathematical equation to determine whether consumer confidence is increasing or decreasing.

Lonnstrom said the index showed the last quarter of last year as one of the worst times for consumer confidence since the survey has been conducted.

While in the past year, the numbers showed a decrease in consumer spending, the index suggests that in the second quarter of 2009, consumer confidence has increased in seven of the nine New York regions surveyed.

For the second consecutive quarter, consumer confidence continued to recover from the abyss of last fall, Lonnstrom said in a written release. "But recovery is coming to New York slowly by region. Albany, Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island are seeing the light at the end of a tunnel that Rochester, Utica, Syracuse, Binghamton and Buffalo have only just entered. Buying plan increases outpaced declines by a two to one margin with cars, furniture and major home improvements leading the way."

Aside from home improvements, Lonnstrom said home buying in general has seen an increase in the second quarter.

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