By Trevor Chappell
(Australian Associated Press)
Queenslanders are spending more on everything, NSW consumers are favouring travel and home improvements, and consumers in Western Australia have decided to spend less on their children.
Overall, consumers are feeling less anxious about their key areas of spending but are feeling more stressed by government policy.
The quarterly NAB Consumer Anxiety Index released on Wednesday showed that Australian consumers are feeling less stressed by retirement funding, the cost of living, job security and their health.
But anxiety over government policy has lifted – driven solely by increased concern in Queensland – following a more positive reading in the wake of the May federal budget.
The NAB index fell to 62.5 points in the third quarter of 2015, down from 63.5 points in the second quarter.
The index provides a subjective assessment of more than 2,100 Australians’ concerns about their future spending/savings plans arising from job security, health, retirement, cost of living and government policy.
“While spending behaviours are still dominated by essentials, fewer consumers are cutting back on non-essentials such as home improvements and travel,” NAB chief economist Alan Oster said.
For the first time the index indicated spending behaviour across states.
In NSW and the ACT, spending behaviour has shifted towards travel, home improvements and major household items.
In Victoria, spending has shifted most towards utilities, eating out and children. Victoria is the only state where the use of credit has risen.
Queenslanders are spending more across the board – except for the use of credit. Spending on utilities is significant.
Although Queenslanders are spending more, Queensland was the only state where anxiety rose.
In Western Australia, there has been a big shift away from spending on children.
Spending in Tasmania is volatile, with consumers favouring travel, charity and personal goods. Tasmania is the least anxious state.
But in South Australia and the Northern Territory, there were cuts across the board, especially in savings, superannuation and investments, home improvements, travel and the use of credit.
Although concerns over the cost of living fell, it is still the biggest cause of consumer stress.