Consumers are feeling happier and opening up their wallets as the coronavirus restrictions slowly ease across Australia.
The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index grew for the ninth week in a row, although it is still well below the long-term average.
The string of increases is unprecedented, but so too were the depths confidence plunged to at the start of the coronavirus-driven economic crisis, ANZ’s head of economics David Plank said.
“More good news about control of the pandemic and the consequent relaxation of restrictions is key to the lift in sentiment,” he said on Tuesday.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the continued rise in confidence showed Australians were happy authorities had the systems in place to respond to any new outbreaks of the virus.
“It’s a sign that Australians are both returning to work, building themselves security and providing long-term economic security off the back of our health success,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
Commonwealth Bank’s weekly spending data showed a levelling off, although people are spending much more than during the worst of the fear about the pandemic in April.
Senior economist Belinda Allen says the next two weeks will be more telling about the pace of recovery as most states move into the second stage of lifting coronavirus restrictions.
“There’s more opportunity for consumers to go out there and spend, but I guess what we don’t know yet is if consumers want to,” she told AAP.
The CBA analysis of card transactions shows spending is up three per cent in the last week of May compared with a year ago, although Ms Allen notes the economy was soft this time last year because of the May federal election.
Those levels of annual growth are still half to a third of what the data showed in early January.
“We certainly have seen some improvement but not as much as maybe what we had anticipated given we’ve seen some further easing of restrictions,” Ms Allen said.
A raft of Australian Bureau of Statistics releases ahead of Wednesday’s national accounts showed wages and salaries were flat in the March quarter.
The government’s tax take dropped 5.4 per cent from December to March while spending grew two per cent or $1.9 billion.
The Reserve Bank board will make a decision on rates on Tuesday afternoon but they are widely expected to stay at 0.25 per cent.