Kiwis are splashing out on wining, dining and big-ticket
items such as new cars and household furniture as consumer
confidence hits a nine-year high.
The latest Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index
showed the highest levels of economic optimism, security in
financial situations and the most buoyant attitude to
spending since the pre-recession boom times of 2005.
Where a reading above 100 indicates more optimists than
pessimists, Monday's reading showed 121.7 for March - the
third-highest reading in the survey's history.
Economists and industry heads told the Herald people were
spending extra cash on household furniture and whiteware, new
cars and entertainment.
Institute of Economic Research principal economist Shamubeel
Eaqub said the confidence was driven by better economic
conditions that stemmed from the performance of highly
skilled industries such as financial, business and property
services as well as activity around the Canterbury rebuild.
People put off buying big-ticket items such as cars,
appliances and household furniture during the recession, he
said. "As confidence returns you're going to get this
Retailers Association chief executive Mark Johnson said the
organisation's members were anticipating increased sales and
began ordering more stock in December.
Lifts had been felt across the household furniture,
whiteware, electronics and automobile sectors, as well as in
the clothing, department store and gardening supplies
divisions, he said.
Hospitality New Zealand vice-president Josh White said there
was a noticeable increase in patrons shelling out for meals,
bucking trends in previous years to visit only for a coffee
or couple of drinks.
"People seem to have a bit more money to spend and they seem
to be doing it in our premises," he said.
Scott Brown of Hip Group, which operates 14 establishments in
Auckland and Waihi Beach, said customers were spending more
and choosing higher-priced items.
John Andrew Ford dealer principal Paul Brown said customers
were driving off the lot in new model cars, and he had
noticed an increase in business since January. "The market
seems to be very buoyant, especially for new cars. We had
been experiencing year-on-year growth that we haven't seen in
a long time."
New shoes, whiteware and dining out were top of the list for
confident shoppers on Auckland's Queen St yesterday.
Hawkes Bay mother and son Marlene and Travis Welsh said they
were feeling positive about the economy and had a bit of
extra cash to spend.
Mrs Welsh had recently bought a new dryer and said the family
were going out more.
Her 21-year-old son, who had come to Auckland to celebrate
his final exams, was also enjoying having some extra spending
"I just got a new job so I am spending up," he said. "I've
been a student so I've always been budgeting."