Consumer confidence boost for retail

While Dunedin was inundated with thousands of cruise ship passengers from the vessels Oosterdam and Sea Princess, pictured here relaxing in the Octagon, retailers can take heart domestic consumer confidence is at near-record levels. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
While Dunedin was inundated with thousands of cruise ship passengers from the vessels Oosterdam and Sea Princess, pictured here relaxing in the Octagon, retailers can take heart domestic consumer confidence is at near-record levels. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Consumer confidence is edging towards record levels which should boost jittery major retailers whose trading expectations have been gloomy in the run up to Christmas.

The retail sector, which had signalled expectations of a tough trading period during the usually lucrative Christmas and New Year period, should be buoyed by the findings of the ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence survey released yesterday.

On Thursday listed Hallenstein Glasson told shareholders that unless conditions improved, it might have to cut its profit guidance for a second time.

The confidence survey reported yesterday its ''current conditions'' index had hit a six-year high while the ''future conditions'' index struck a three- year high, ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said in a statement.

''Both augur well for the Christmas shopping period and also the wider economy,'' Mr Bagrie said.

Consumer confidence had continued to edge up, rising one point to 129.4, its highest level since January 2010, while the seasonally adjusted estimates revealed the same pattern of improvement, with overall confidence at 129.8, its highest since February 2007, Mr Bagrie said.

While the survey's composite growth indicator implied a booming economy, Mr Bagrie said it was not booming yet.

''But we like the strong signal. Solid confidence is adding to the economic hum,'' he said.

Confidence levels had hit fresh highs across several age groups and regions, the exception being respondents who were in the age bracket 18-24.

He said a split of survey responses by gender revealed a three-point lift among females, to their most optimistic in three years, but a one-point easing among males surveyed.

''Current conditions among females are at a three-year high, while responses by females regarding future conditions have lifted to a six-year high,'' Mr Bagrie said.

There was encouraging news for durable goods retailers, a climb in the balance of respondents viewing it to be a good time to buy a major household item, which hit a four-month high following a period of declines, Mr Bagrie said.

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