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Surging consumer confidence points to a bumper Christmas

Business

Retailers could be in for a buoyant Christmas, with confidence among Australians going from strength to strength.

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The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index surged 3.2 per cent to 100.2 points in the past week, marking the 10th consecutive increase.

It topped the 100-point mark for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, suggesting optimists are again outweighing pessimists.

A 10 per cent rise in the “time to buy a major household item” sub-index was a key factor in lifting confidence to eight-month high – a pointer to future household spending.

ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank said this could signal a buoyant Christmas shopping period.

“Lower interest rates and the RBA’s commitment to support employment could have been triggers for the gain,” Plank said.

Personal income tax cuts, a falling number of coronavirus cases and the easing of restrictions have helped to lift confidence in recent weeks.

The Reserve Bank of Australia cut the cash rate to a record-low 0.1 per cent last week, while also reducing rates on a number of other policy levers.

However, the four major retail banks did not pass on the reduction to their customers’ variable-rate mortgages, instead reducing the rates on their fixed-rate mortgages.

However, a number of smaller mortgage providers did cut their variable rates between 10 and 20 basis points.

National Australia Bank will also release its monthly business survey for October on Tuesday, which will be the first opportunity to respond to the federal budget, which also contained incentives for business.

Business conditions have been improving in recent months after the initial impact of the pandemic and are back to levels seen pre-COVID, but they still remain below average amid caution in hiring new staff.

Business confidence too has been rising, but is still classed as fragile.

-AAP

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