19 Sep 2017

Consumer confidence edges lower

3:43 pm on 19 September 2017

Consumer confidence has eased slightly but people remain relatively upbeat about their personal and broader economic outlooks, a new survey says.

28072016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. David Jones opens in Wellington, bringing international brands to New Zealand. Many of the big brands are available.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index edged down one point to 112.4 in the past three months, after it touched a two-year high in the June quarter.

A reading above 100 indicates more optimists than pessimists.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said consumers remained optimistic about their current circumstances and were still willing to spend relatively freely.

"Large numbers of households are reporting that their financial position has improved. And although expectations for the coming year have softened, households remain fairly upbeat about the economic outlook."

He said consumers were less keen on buying big ticket items such as appliances and furniture, which may be connected to the slowdown in the housing market, but were happily spending on going out to bars and restaurants.

Last week the ANZ-Roy Morgan survey reported that consumer confidence was at a three-year high, due to a strong labour market and low inflation.

Mr Stephens said the surprise was that the housing slowdown had not had more of an effect on sentiment, but the relative strength of the labour market may be the offsetting factor.

He said paying down debt still did not seem to be a priority for households, when they were asked what they would do with a $10,000 windfall.

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