27 Apr 2018

Consumer confidence lowest since 2016

6:30 pm on 27 April 2018

Consumers aren't feeling great about the economy in the short and medium-term, but that reluctance to splurge could work out best for consumers in the long-haul.

Christmas shopping in Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index dropped 7.5 points to 120.5 for April, with any reading over 100 indicating more optimists than pessimists.

The reading is the lowest since mid-2016, but slightly above the historical average.

Wellington was the most confident part of the country - retaining its place in last month's survey - while it was weakest in Canterbury, where confidence dropped 13 points.

ANZ's chief economist Sharon Zollner said while the national confidence drop grabbed the attention, it should not be overstated.

"There's no obvious catalyst for the dip ... it's still within the range that we've seen for the last few years, so we're not reading too much into it at this point."

Most people were feeling lukewarm about their own personal financial situations both now and in the short-term future, with 9 percent feeling better off than a year ago - a drop of seven points - and 25 percent expecting to be better off in a year's time, also down 10 points.

However confidence in the national economy for the next year dropped markedly from 25 percent to 13 percent.

While she couldn't pinpoint a reason, Ms Zollner said that could spur on an incentive to save.

"It's a return maybe to a healthy scepticism ... household debt is very high at the moment, so at this stage of the cycle consumers feeling reasonably robust but not too gung-ho is probably best for the economy."