16 Dec 2010

Consumer confidence down - surveys

1:11 pm on 16 December 2010

Two surveys have recorded a fall in consumer confidence.

The Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence index dipped for the second quarter in a row, falling nearly 6 points to 108 in the three months to December - its lowest level in 18 months.

A rating over 100 indicates there are more optimists than pessimists.

Westpac senior economist, Donna Purdue says the fall in confidence is widespread across all income groups, ages and regions.

And the ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Index fell 2 points to 112 in December, its lowest level since July last year.

ANZ Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie says incomes are rising and commodity prices remain robust, but people are reducing debt while the housing market is weak.

While it's not good news for retailers leading into Christmas, Mr Bagrie says it will benefit the economy in the longer run, because rebuilding precautionary savings buffer is a precondition for strong growth.

In other findings, the number of respondents who thought it was a good time to buy a major household item improved to a net 10%.

Looking ahead, more people expected to be worse off in a year's time, and in five year's time.