New Zealand’s consumer confidence improved in the first quarter but remained at a very low level as households are grappled with skyrocketing living costs, higher mortgage rates and a deepening downturn in the property market, a survey conducted by the Westpac bank and the consultancy firm McDermott Miller showed Wednesday.
The Westpac McDermott Miller consumer confidence index rose to 77.7 in the March quarter from 75.6 in the preceding period. Nonetheless, the index continued to remain at extremely low levels.
The number of New Zealanders who are pessimistic about the economic environment continues to outweigh the number who are optimistic by a wide margin.
The present conditions index climbed to 72.0 from 71.0 in the December quarter. At 81.4, the expected conditions index gained 2.8 points from 78.6.
Financial pressures continue to be the big concern for the households. The survey showed that the pressure on households’ budgets is set to become more pronounced over the year head with strong inflation rates.
The index measuring the current financial situation fell to -31.8 from -30.9 in the prior quarter. Meanwhile, the expected financial conditions advanced to -3.8 from -12.6.
The one-year economic outlook rose by 0.4 points to -41.1, while the 5-year economic outlook fell to -10.8 from -10.0.
Many households said that they reduced spending on leisure activities. The ‘good time to buy’ sub-index gained 2.9 points to -24.2 in March. The agency said there will be more households winding back their spending over the year ahead.
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