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Kiwi consumers continue to tighten purse strings according to latest Nielsen survey

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Last year, New Zealanders’ confidence in the economy took quite the fall, plummeting nine points, from 99 in Q4 2010 to 90 in Q4 2011. And results for the second quarter of this year don’t make for better news, with confidence remaining at the global average of 91, down six index points from the same time last year, according to the latest round of Nielsen’s Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions.

But we remain more optimistic than Australia (90), US (87) and UK (75). In fact Nielsen New Zealand managing director, Rob Clark, says it's quite rare for New Zealand confidence levels to be above those of Australia, reflecting our Trans-Tasman cousins' "difficult retail environment”.

Marketers and retailers have a tough job ahead, and Clark say the results show a “continued uncertainty and reluctance by consumers to spend on items considered non-essential”. He adds that almost two thirds of its respondents from this latest survey stated now was not a good time to buy the things they want and need.

All this comes in spite of over half of consumers considering their personal finances over the next twelve months to be “good” or “excellent”, up one percentage point from Q1 2012 and down five percentage points from  Q2 2011 (57 percent).

Instead, it seems any spare cash is making its way into savings. Fourty percent said that once living expenses were covered, any spare cash would go into savings and 34 percent would utilise the money to pay off debts, credit cards or loans. 

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