TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Floridians are feeling pretty good about their pocketbooks, according to a new survey from the University of Florida.
Consumer confidence is at a five-year high. The survey finds Florida's consumer confidence index has jumped to 79 -- the highest level since October 2007.
People feel better about their jobs, income, housing prices and the stock market.
Retailers also feel better about their prospects, according to the Florida Retail Federation.
Rick McAllister says retailers have posted consistently higher sales over the past 24 months, but now there's a new development that bodes well for Florida's economy.
McAllister says stores are starting to expand for the first time in years.
"Now you see a lot of new retailers popping up. New construction going on, things like that indicating companies are more confident about the economy and how consumers feel. So there's a lot of retail growth right now starting in Florida for the first time in three or four years. That's a very positive sign."
McAllister thinks the consumer confidence index would be even higher if it weren't for continuing high unemployment. Florida's jobless rate stands at 8.8 percent with more than 800,000 people without work.
But retailers had a good back-to-school shopping season and McAllister says that's a good sign for the upcoming holiday shopping season. He says many stores are hiring full and part-time employees to prepare for the holidays so there should be more opportunities for out-of-work Floridians.
McAllister predicts retailers could see an increase in sales of five percent or more this Christmas shopping season. He says it's simple: stronger consumer confidence equals stronger consumer spending.
"If you look at tourism, it's setting records. If you look at real estate inventories and new housing starts, it's up. If you look at our 401K's and what we plan to retire on or save for college, they're doing so much better. It would be hard not to feel better about the economy if you really take a look at the factors we should all care about."
First Coast News