27 Aug 2021

Consumer confidence falls, remains below average

3:34 pm on 27 August 2021

Consumer confidence eased in August as the lockdown closed shops around the country.

credit card swipe through terminal, spending, consumer confidence, retail, hospitality

File image. Photo: 123rf

The ANZ-Roy Morgan survey of consumers shows headline confidence fell 3 points in August to 110, which is still below the long run average of 120.

Meanwhile, the number of people saying it was a good time to buy a major household item, a key measure of consumer confidence, fell 11 points to 13.

About 15 percent of responses to the survey were received after the country entered into alert level 4.

ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner said "As New Zealanders face into the strictest lockdown restrictions in 18 months, the mood appears broadly to be one of resigned calm".

"That could change should the data suggest the lockdown is not on track to eliminate Covid-19, but for now, it's certainly a marked contrast with the chaos and panic the nation faced when Covid first invaded our shores."

Consumers had learned that their jobs were probably safe, particularly given the exceptionally tight labour market, Zollner said.

She was of the view that much of the lost spending during the lockdown would be recovered once alert level restrictions were eased.

However, the rebound after last year's lockdown was largely fuelled by a surging housing market, fuelled by lower interest rates and loose lending restrictions.

"Now of course that had all sorts of horrific side effects but one thing it certainly did do is support confidence and spending amongst the roughly two-thirds of households who own a house," she said.

"We cannot do that again, so that's probably the biggest shadow hanging over the bounce out of lockdown this time."

Consumer's inflation expectation lifted once again, after easing last month, and is now sitting at 5.1 percent.

"This will make it easier for retailers to raise prices without fear of customer backlash, and can also impact wage demands in a tight labour market."