31 Jul 2020

Consumer confidence flattening following Covid recovery boost

2:06 pm on 31 July 2020

The rebound in consumer confidence looks to have slowed as households prepare for the prospect of job losses when the government's wage subsidy ends.

Close up of a customer hand paying with a contactless credit card reader in a bar

Photo: 123RF

The monthly ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Index is basically unchanged from June at 104.3, well below the long term average of 119.2.

The proportion of households who thought it was a good time to buy a major household item slipped five points to 0 percent - which is at recessionary levels.

ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner said households were reacting to the impending wave of job losses that will occur when the government's wage subsidy scheme ends in September.

Despite the drop in the net proportion of households who thought it was a good time to buy a major household item, anecdote and data shows there was a flurry of spending out of lockdown.

Zollner said consumers had been spending their "accidental" savings they had accumulated in lockdown, but were now taking a cautious approach going forward.

The bank's business survey released yesterday also showed a levelling off of activity.

Zollner said both surveys showed that the the surge in economic activity seen out of lockdown was beginning to level out.

"There's essentially two economic shocks going on. There's the lockdown and the bounce back out of that which is great but then there's the next shock coming which is the economic hit from the closed border - and we're really only just starting to feel that.

"It's possible we are in a little bit of a sweet spot between those two quite separate, though related, events.

"So we've seen in both the business confidence survey and now the consumer confidence survey that the bounce [out of lockdown] now seems to be running out of steam, still well short of where it was [pre-lockdown]."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs