While recent reports have indicated that Australians owe $37-billion in credit card debt the latest research has shown that the public is saving more. A survey conducted across 1400 people has shown that the public is more interested in stashing their cash away over the course of the next year than it is in splurging on treats and luxuries as mounting global and local pressures continue to take their toll on consumer buying behaviour. The survey indicated that top of everyone’s minds was debt, unemployment and approaching retirement and the worries appear to be having an effect on consumer behaviour, as people pull back even further to curtail spending.
The survey, conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, has also indicated that 55% of Australians have become more self-restrained when it comes to spending over the last year, as compared to 50% in 2011, increasing their awareness of what is a necessity and foregoing luxury goods. Online shopping has benefited from the changes in consumer trends as many people confessed they searched the web for deals and promotions in a bid to spend less, and shrugging off the so-called benefits of retail therapy. Online cosmetics and clothing have shown the most impressive growth over the last year while it has emerged that 80% of online shoppers are visiting and transacting on international websites rather than those close to home as people shop around to find the best deals.
Unlike consumers, banks are sourcing more of their money from local markets, as the cost of borrowing international funds continues to climb. Term deposits have provided a valuable source of funds for banks to finance their own debts.
Other research has shown that people are taking their savings and term deposits more seriously and are no longer splurging as much or as often on personal treats and luxuries. 35% of consumers have said they now purchase cheaper goods and 26% are now doing their shopping at discount outlets, compared to 22% from the previous year. Eating out has also been seen as a luxury, with 41% claiming that they no longer eat out or drink as frequently as compared to the year before where 34% had changed their habits.
The government’s impending carbon tax is another subject that has consumers worried, as households struggle more from an increase in the cost of energy throughout the country, something which could also have an effect on the amount people have available to invest in savings and term deposits.
While rate cuts, intended to give the housing market a bit of a boost, totalling 75 points for May and June, have had owners of savings and term deposits accounts under a bit of pressure no more have been scheduled for July, but the jury is out on August and September as analysts await news on what the Reserve Bank of Australia will decide to do.
The cash rate is currently sitting at 3.5% a figure which, if the minutes from the organization’s board meeting are anything to go by, suggests that they are satisfied with where it is right now. The cuts have been good news for personal and home loan owners but not so good for people who have been saving a nest egg for many years or who are nearing retirement age. For those who have been able to take advantage of it, it has enabled them to pay their home loans off much quicker.
As pressure continues to build in Europe it is clear that we have not been able to shrug off the recessionary period and that more trying times lie ahead for the consumer, giving more reason and importance to save than ever before.