18 Sep 2012

Consumer confidence expected to remain fragile

8:25 am on 18 September 2012

Consumer confidence is expected to remain fragile on the back of a patchy labour market recovery and slowing global growth.

The Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index rose nearly 3 points to 102.5 during the three months to September compared with the previous quarter.

A reading above 100 points indicates more optimists than pessimists.

On their own financial position, a net 22% say they are financially worse off than a year ago, a deterioration from the previous survey.

Looking ahead, a net 2% expect their situation to improve in the near term, a turnaround from the previous survey which showed a net 1% picking it would worsen.

Consumers appear more willing to spend, with a net 27% saying it is a good time to buy a major household item - the third successive quarterly rise.

Westpac senior economist Felix Delbruck says respondents remain glum about their own financial position and the economy and confidence is softer than it was last year.

He says increased interest in buying a major household item has been reflected in actual spending, but believes that is due more to low prices than a pick-up in broad consumer confidence.

Mr Delbruck says that confidence has gone sideways since tumbling last year when the European debt crisis took a sharp turn for the worse.