Consumer sentiment lifts but still shaky

Prashant Mehra
(Australian Associated Press)


Confidence seems to be gradually returning for Australian consumers as coronavirus-related restrictions are eased.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence survey has recorded its eighth straight weekly rise, up 0.4 per cent to 92.7, helped by the government wage subsidy scheme and a recovering jobs market.

While confidence is up 42 per cent from its low point in March, when fears about the pandemic were the highest, it is still far below the lows experienced during the global financial crisis.

“Government measures and signs that the job market is stabilising seem to be playing a key part in the recovery of the index despite recent concerns over trade with China and weak retail sales,” ANZ chief economist David Plank said.

The survey is based on 1,456 interviews conducted online and over the telephone at the weekend.

The respondent’s confidence about their current financial condition slipped 1.8 per cent but the indicator for their expectation of “future financial conditions” rose 3.2 per cent and is now near average levels.

Sentiment about current economic conditions gained 0.3 per cent but sentiment for “future economic conditions” declined 2.4 per cent, likely over recent concerns over trade with China.

Confidence about “time to buy a major household item” strengthened further, up 2.5 per cent.

However, the four-week moving average for “inflation expectations” declined marginally to 3.3 per cent, a historic low.

The shaky sentiment comes amid worries over the economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, with ratings agency Fitch last week downgrading Australia’s AAA credit rating outlook from “stable” to “negative”.

The Reserve bank said this month it expected the economy to contract about 6.0 per cent over 2020.


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