20 Mar 2012

Consumer confidence fragile

8:20 am on 20 March 2012

Confidence among consumers has remained fragile, with people worried about their personal finances and the state of the New Zealand economy.

The Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence index rose 1 point to 102.4 in the first three months of the year.

A reading above 100 indicates more optimists than pessimists.

Westpac senior economist Felix Delbruck says there have been signs the economy is improving, but the weak confidence figures indicates retailers cannot take it for granted that rising spending will be sustained.

Respondents' perception of their current financial situation remained unchanged, with a net 20% feeling worse off than year ago.

Mr Delbruck says that will be a key factor in how confident people feel.

Meanwhile, a net 19% expect the economy to deteriorate over the coming year, slightly less than the previous quarter, while fewer people expect good times over the next five years, the third successive quarterly decline.