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Stress rising among Aussie consumers – report

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Australians in every state and territory are feeling more stressed about their finances, with plans for big purchases falling as the wealth gap continues to widen, a survey by National Australia Bank has found.

The stress index in the NAB consumer sentiment survey released Thursday sat at 57.8 points in the June quarter, up from 56.6 points in the March quarter, according to a report by The Australian. The spike was driven by growing concern about government policy, ability to fund retirements and the cost of living.

The gap between low and high incomes grew wider, with consumers earning less than $35,000 per year rising 2.4 points to 63.1, and those earning more than $100,000 per year falling 0.9 points to 53.6, The Australian reported.

“Stress among consumers on lower income remains noticeably higher across all measures, particularly cost of living,” NAB said in its report.

Consumer perception of living expenses remained highest for groceries, while utilities saw a sharp spike. Respondents also particularly worried about hikes in the cost of rent, transport, travel and holidays, home improvements, medical expenses and eating out.

“Rent has no doubt been a contributing factor, with on balance more WA consumers noting rent price increases than in any other state except SA,” a NAB spokesman told The Australian.

Western Australians were increasingly worried overall as well, with the state’s consumer stress index rating rising 2.7 points to 55.6 in the June quarter.

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Forty-two percent of survey respondents said they were mindful of where they spent their money, and NAB noted a 16% drop in people shopping online out of boredom.

Concern about the overall economy was highest in Victoria at 63.3 points. The state’s economic recovery has been slower than others due to multiple COVID-19 lockdowns, The Australian reported. Victoria ranked second for overall consumer stress at 58, behind NSW/ACT at 59.3.

NAB found expectations of making major purchases had fallen – with the exception of home renovations, partly due to the success of the HomeBuilder program.

Ryan SmithRyan Smith is currently an executive editor at Key Media, where he started as a journalist in 2013. He has since he worked his way up to managing editor and is now an executive editor. He edits content for several B2B publications across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. He also writes feature content for trade publications for the insurance and mortgage industries.
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