Below trend growth to continue
Consumers continue to balance cost of living against job security
Consumer stress rises again as cost of living concerns increase to their highest level since late-2018. But Australians remain upbeat about their job prospects, although spending may be slowing now. Household budgets are rebalancing and priorities shifting as consumers are mindful where they spend, switch to less expensive products, and research more.
The NAB Consumer Stress Index rose again in Q1 2023 to 56.6 pts (from 56.0 in Q4’22), as cost of living stress climbs (up 1.2 pts to 68.9). But overall, the index is still trending comfortably below the 10-year average (58.5 pts), with low job stress continuing to provide a key offset.
Around 3 in 10 (29%) consumers report “very high” levels of stress arising from cost of living (90+ pts). By income, 4 in 10 (37%) low income earners are experiencing very high cost of living stress, but even among higher income groups, the share is 1 in 4 (23%). Living costs are also weighing heavily on consumers who are renting (40% of house renters report very high cost of living stress).
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