The economic outlook of consumers in three Mid State counties continues to rise heading into the Christmas and holiday season, a good sign for area retailers.
The overall Middle Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index rose to 329 this month, up from 226 in September, according to the latest economic survey by Middle Tennessee State University.
The current poll of 235 randomly selected adult residents of Davidson, Rutherford and Williamson counties was conducted Dec. 1 and 3. The index score is computed by adding the percentage of favorable responses to each survey question and subtracting the percentage of negative responses.
Almost half (46 percent) of local consumers expect to spend more than $500 on Christmas and holiday gifts this year, while almost one in four (23 percent) expects to spend more than $1,000, up from 19 percent last year.
Timothy Graeff, director of the Office of Consumer Research in the MTSU Jones College of Business, which conducted the survey, said the numbers reflect the fact that consumers "feel increasingly more optimistic" about the future of the national economy, local economy, job market and their own personal financial situation.
The survey's current and future indices also continued to rise, with the "current situation index" jumping from 48 in September to 77 this month while the "future expectations index" rose from 80 to 130 over the same period.
"When consumers begin to feel better about the current state of the economy and they also feel increasingly more optimistic about the future of the economy, such positive feelings can find their way into budgeting and spending decisions," Graeff said. " This is especially important as we enter the ever important Christmas and holiday shopping season. ... This positive view toward spending could signal healthy sales at the cash register."