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Consumers Spending, Household Finances: CoreData, ING DIRECT reports

Spending spree hits WA as other states opt to save

By Michelle Hammond
Monday, 18 April 2011

New South Wales has the highest number of consumers who are saving, while WA consumers appear to be on a spending spree, according to the latest report by research company CoreData.


The CoreData Investor Sentiment Research Report reveals Australian consumers’ opinions towards business and economic conditions for the first quarter of 2011.


CoreData surveyed 877 people between February and March, with 49% saying that they are now in a position to save; a 7% increase since the previous quarter.


According to CoreData managing director Andre Inwood, household finances have improved considerably since the end of 2010, which means financial pressure is finally easing.


“Key reasons cited for the improvement in circumstances are employment, having a steady income, investments and having no major debts,” Inwood says.


“However, while household finances improved, sentiment towards the Australian economy remains static and hasn’t changed from 2010, with respondents on average believing the economy will neither outperform nor underperform.”


“We also see that NSW has become the saving state, with the highest number of respondents putting money aside, while worryingly WA seems to be on a spending spree with the lowest number of savers and the highest number saying they are running up debts and drawing on their savings.”


“It’s also not good news for Queensland, with the state reporting the largest percentage of respondents expecting business conditions to worsen in the next quarter.”


According to the report, NSW and South Australia are the most optimistic states about the next quarter, with 37% of respondents expecting business conditions to improve.


Reflecting South Australians’ optimism, the report reveals South Australia is the most financially secure state, with 61% of respondents feeling financially secure, followed by WA and Queensland.


Meanwhile, Victoria is the most financially insecure state, with less than half of Victorian respondents feeling financially secure.


The overall positive findings are in sharp contrast to an ING DIRECT report, which claims households are struggling to keep up with living costs as household bills continue to rise at double the inflation rate.


The ING DIRECT Financial Wellbeing Index was complied by Galaxy Research from the online responses of 1,033 households earlier this month.


The data was weighted by region and household size to reflect the Australian household population, based on the 2006 census.


The latest ING DIRECT report reveals household bills have risen by 7.5% over the last 12 months, which is more than double the consumer price index figure of 2.7%.


According to the report, 31% of households say regular expenses have risen by more than 10% over the last year, with the greatest price hikes occurring across health, schooling, utilities and fuel.


As a result, median savings per household have declined from $9,238 in the quarter of 2010 to $7,215 in the first quarter of 2011, with 33% of households now “uncomfortable” with their level of personal savings.


In a bid to meet rising bills, credit card debt has increased from a median of $1,773 per household in Q4 2010 to $2,205 in Q1 2011.


ING DIRECT chief executive Don Koch says households are also grappling with overarching costs like mortgage repayments, but he is optimistic about the future.


“While household budgets are under pressure, the good news is that job security and unemployment levels are strong, which may help in the long-term,” Koch says.

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