Adding to the bleak outlook for holiday sales, a Cronkite/Eight Poll released Nov. 25 found that more than half of Arizonans expect to spend less than last year.
“Our poll really bears out some of the nervousness and some the fear that people are going through,” said Tara Blanc, the poll’s associate director.
Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said they are likely to spend less than they did during the 2007 holiday season.
“It’s obvious to us that people really are concerned about what’s going on, and when people get concerned, they stop spending money,” Blanc said. “People have taken a wait-and-see attitude.”
The result was a sharp increase from a Cronkite/Eight Poll last holiday season in which 31 percent of respondents said they planned to spend less.
Bruce Merrill, a retired Arizona State University professor who directs the poll, said the jump is a reflection of the state’s sagging economy.
“A lot of families are really having a hard time,” Merrill said. “It doesn’t bode well for the merchants that depend so heavily on the holidays.”
It also doesn’t bode well, he said, for the state budget, which already is reeling from a big drop in sales tax revenues.
“If half the people in Arizona spend less than they did last year, that could put an enormous hindrance on the state’s budget,” Merrill said.
The poll found that 28 percent of Arizonans expect their financial situations to get worse in the next year, against 46 percent who expect it to be the same and 19 percent who expect it to improve.
Among other subjects, the poll found that most Arizonans approve of Janet Napolitano’s performance as governor. Forty-seven percent rated her good and 29 percent excellent. Fourteen percent rated her poor and 2 percent very poor.
Respondents had difficulty giving opinions on Secretary of State Jan Brewer, a Republican who is in line to become governor if Napolitano joins President Barack Obama’s cabinet. Fifty-seven percent said they couldn’t rate Brewer. Of those who could, 69 percent rated Brewer’s performance as good, 13 percent excellent, 13 percent poor and 5 percent very poor.
The poll, conducted Thursday to Sunday by Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and public television station Eight/KAET, involved 780 registered Arizona voters. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.