- Rising utility bills is the biggest concern for consumers
- Two-thirds of Australians are changing spending habits to save on living expenses
- One-fifth of consumers have no spare cash after living expenses are paid
Sydney, AUSTRALIA (July 17, 2012) – Australian consumer sentiment and purchasing intentions remain low as fears about living expenses continue to plague consumers, according to the latest figures from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.
Rising utility bills were cited as the most or second-most pressing concern by two-fifths (40 percent) of Australians – a figure that has been increasing throughout 2012. The second biggest concern was job security at 14 percent, closely followed by the economy at 10 percent.
Chris Percy, managing director, Nielsen Pacific, said: “Consumers are preoccupied with factors such as deteriorating economic conditions overseas and the increasing cost of living. Continuing frustration over the banks not passing on interest rate cuts in full and ever-increasing utility costs is doing nothing to bolster sentiment.”
Correspondingly, almost two-thirds of Australians (64 percent) have changed their spending habits in the last 12 months to save money on living expenses. Nielsen’s findings show the most popular way to save money is via a reduction in takeaway meals, closely followed by measures to save on gas and electricity. Spending less on new clothes came in at third place.
Consumers also indicated they are opting to buy cheaper grocery brands and cutting down their spending on out-of-home entertainment to save money.
“Australians are being hit hard by the increasing cost of living, and a lack of confidence in the marketplace will only serve to further impact discretionary spending as people opt to keep their wallets firmly in their pockets,” added Percy.
Nielsen also found that almost half (47 percent) of Australians are putting a portion of their spare cash into savings and 30 percent allocate surplus funds to pay off debts including credit cards. However, nearly one in five Australians (19 percent) now claim to have no spare cash after living expenses are paid.
When asked about the cost of living and whether Australians felt that now was a good time to buy the things they want or need, almost two-thirds (60 percent) responded that now was ‘bad’ or ‘not so good’. This is in direct contrast from figures from two years ago, when 60 percent said now was a ‘good time’ to buy things.
Compared with other countries around the world, Australia ranked 25 out of the 56 nations surveyed in terms of consumer confidence – just behind New Zealand, Israel and Pakistan.
Percy added: “Poignantly, this is the first time Australia has dropped below New Zealand in terms of consumer confidence in the past year. While New Zealand consumer sentiment has remained relatively stagnant in recent times, Australia has experienced a number of fluctuations including a significant drop in confidence in 2012.”
Despite this, Asia-Pacific nations come out on top overall making up seven of the 10 most optimistic countries. Indonesia, India and the Philippines recorded the highest levels of consumer confidence globally.
The European nations of Hungary, Portugal, Italy and Greece took out the bottom four spots.
About the Nielsen Global Survey
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted between May 4 and May 21, 2012 and polled more than 28,000 online consumers in 56 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6 percent. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.