17 Jun 2014

Consumer confidence resilient - survey

7:23 am on 17 June 2014

Rising interest rates have only marginally dented consumer confidence, and people are less focussed on saving and paying off debt, the latest consumer confidence index shows.

While confidence did come off the boil a little in the June quarter, it is still at its second highest level since March 2005.

The Westpac McDermott Miller consumer confidence index eased to 121.2 points in June, from 121.7 points three months earlier. A figure above 100 means more optimists than pessimists.

Westpac economist Felix Delbruck said it was surprising confidence had not eased further, given the recent fall in dairy prices and three lots of Reserve Bank interest rate hikes this year.

"What we can say about the survey is it retrospectively validates the Reserve Bank's decision to stick to its guns in last week's Monetary Policy Statement," Mr Delbruck said.

"It basically says that there's been very little impacts of rising OCR (Official Cash Rate) on consumers to date."

Conventional wisdom said it took 12-18 months for OCR changes to have an impact but people's responses to interest rates from cycle to cycle were hard to predict, he said.

"So far, confidence has just stayed pretty resilient."

That included people being less focussed on saving and paying off debt, with a drop in both of those in the latest survey.

"That's certainly not an indication that people's spending appetites have been much affected by what's happened in the economy or financially in the last three months," Mr Delbruck said.

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Photo: PHOTO NZ