CANBERRA, AAP – Australians appear to be taking the growing virus crisis in their stride, despite multiple lockdowns and stiff restrictions in many parts of the country.
The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index rose 2.5 per cent, recouping most of last week’s 3.1 per cent fall and to a level that suggests optimists have the edge over pessimists.
“Despite the current resilience in sentiment, the persistence of the highly infectious Delta variant means there is significant uncertainty about how things will evolve over the next few weeks,” ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank said.
The recovery in the index was driven by a 7.5 per cent increase in confidence among Queenslanders after its the lockdown ended in the southeast of the state.
But confidence also rose by 7.1 per cent in Sydney, the epicentre of Australia’s current outbreak and where the death toll is rising as new daily infections remain in the hundreds.
Even more surprising, the survey found the ‘time to buy a major household item’ component gained five per cent and at a time when half of the population can only go out to buy essentials.
However, this index did slump 8.3 per cent last week.
Just in the past few days the NSW government has broadened its virus lockdown to the entire state and Victoria has extended its sixth lockdown to September 2, which includes a nightly curfew.
The ACT has also broadened its restrictions to the same date and Greater Darwin and Katherine have entered a three-day shutdown.
However, the confidence survey was conducted at the weekend, so it won’t capture all of these latest events.
Still, another report shows many households were feeling comfortable with their financial position heading into Australia’s third-wave outbreak.
The report even found the average household was more comfortable with their financial situation than prior to the pandemic.
The twice-yearly ME household financial comfort index increased three per cent to 6.04 points out of 10 during the past six months to June.
This is five per cent higher than a year earlier and eight per cent above its December 2019 level.
ME’s consulting economist Jeff Oughton said despite the phasing out of most government support measures during the first half of the year, several factors have bolstered households’ sense of wealth and comfort with their finances.
“These include rising investments such as the property market, slightly higher average incomes in a rebounding job market and more conservative spending and savings behaviour,” Mr Oughton said.
“Of course, there are still sections of the population, for example single parents, insecure workers including casual and gig economy workers, the unemployed, and self-employed Australians, who aren’t feeling as financially comfortable.”