Consumer confidence remains weak

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 11:48 17/09/2012

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Kiwis feel financially worse off than three months ago even though their confidence has picked up slightly.

That is revealed in the Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index published today. The index rose to 102.5, up from 99.9 in June.

"Consumer confidence has picked up slightly, but remains weak," said Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens.

"Households are a little less pessimistic for the coming year than in June, but not much; and their assessment of their own finances remains very bleak."

"While it's concerning that overall confidence remains so low, the improvement in people's reported willingness to spend has gone hand in hand with a genuine pickup in retail activity in the first half of this year," said Stephens.

"The steady improvement in this part of the survey suggests that spending should continue to see modest upward momentum."

The survey shows that despite the dip in confidence, households' willingness to buy big ticket items has been gradually improving since late last year.

''This is strikingly at odds with how downbeat households continue to be in other respects- including their personal financial circumstances.''

Westpac McDermott Miller said they suspected the low prices for imported good thanks to the high New Zealand dollar was responsible for more households considering big ticket items.

Falling mortgage interest rates and easier lending were likely to also be reasons for the small increase in confidence in the September quarter.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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