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Poll: Spending up over holiday season

With increases in consumer confidence and post-Christmas holiday spending, the economy is showing signs of getting better, according to a recent Siena poll.

The Siena Research Institute is scheduled to issue a report on consumer confidence on Wednesday, Jan. 6, indicating an increase prior to Christmas Day. In that vein, the Retail Council of New York State also issued findings that consumers reported an increase in both pre-Christmas and post-Christmas spending habits compared to 2008.

The Jan. 6 monthly poll measured consumer willingness to spend from Dec. 1 through Christmas Eve, said Don Levy, director of the Siena Research Institute.

However, Levy said, there were still more pessimists than optimists roaming the malls. He said the polls show the consumer confidence index to be around 65.8, nearly 10 points below even, but it is up from 57 in 2008.

Levy said an index score of 75 indicates that the same number of people were willing to spend freely as those who are not, but a comfortable level is well above that.

New York has been creeping upwards, approaching that break even point, he said.

The retail council also reported better grades in 2009 than 2008.

"Week before Christmas, sales were considered a success by 70 percent of surveyed retailers who ultimately gave the 2009 season a 'B minus' letter grade, an improvement over the 'C minus' they awarded last year," according to information from the council.

The report states that 74 percent of retailers said 2009 week-before-Christmas sales outshined 2008, and 58 percent of merchants stated after-Christmas sales were better than 2008.

"We could hear the relief in many members' voices as we conducted this final survey of the season. It wasn't a year of huge growth but it was still a solid improvement over 2008," said Retail Council President and Chief Executive Officer James R. Sherin.

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