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Consumer confidence bounces back in WA

The majority of West Australians are increasingly confident in the future of the state’s economy but remain worried about the cost of living, a survey has found.

A WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry has found confidence in the state’s economy has continued to rise among adult consumers in both city and regional areas, reaching its highest level in four years during the December quarter.

CCI chief economist Rick Newnham says the survey results show that most WA consumers are feeling the impact of the state’s economic recovery.

About 74 per cent of consumers expect the WA economy to grow or remain the same over the next 12 months, a five per cent jump in confidence from the September quarter.

Short-term confidence has also increased by five per cent to 76 per cent from the previous quarter.

The number of consumers worried about political stability has fallen to 56 per cent in the December quarter as the government finds its feet following the March election.

But people remain worried about the cost of living, with 70 per cent saying the price of groceries, utilities and transport are a concern.

They also remain cautious about slow wage growth, high household debt and a weak property market.

Lower-income households are particularly feeling the pinch, Mr Newnham said.

“Seventy-two per cent of consumers with household incomes under $60,000 (have cited) rising living costs as a major influence on confidence,” he said.

Consumer confidence in personal finance and job security also lagged throughout 2017, with a small turnaround in the December quarter.

Mr Newnham said although there have been small improvements in the perception of job security, more than a quarter believed their employment prospects had deteriorated over the past year.

“Four out of five WA jobs are created by the private sector so it is clear that if the government wants to improve job prospects further and encourage wage growth then business investment must be supported,” he said.

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