March 01, 2012
Sydney, March 01, 2012 – The MasterCard Worldwide Index TM of Consumer Confidence, which tracks forward looking sentiment of Australians over the next six months, has fallen sharply from 57 Index points in the first half of 2011 to 43.3 Index points.
Conducted twice a year, the latest MasterCard Worldwide IndexTM of Consumer Confidence undertaken between December 2011 and February 2012, shows that retailers still face significant obstacles before consumer sentiment returns to positive territory. The Index and its accompanying reports do not represent MasterCard financial performance.
“Despite seeing a lift in overall retail growth in the months leading up to Christmas, it is no surprise that the latest figures indicate a decline in the outlook for confidence given that consumers kept retail expenditure on a short leash during the festive month of December,” said MasterCard Australia Country Manager, Andrew Cartwright.
“Consumers are still keeping a very close eye on their exposure to debt. This is evidenced by the annual growth rate on credit card balances which accrue interest falling to 1.64 per cent in December 2011, down from 2.28 per cent in November 2011.”
The MasterCard Index also shows that confidence in the general employment situation among Australians has significantly deteriorated, dropping notably from an optimistic 60.7 Index points to a pessimistic 39.2 Index points.
These fears about general employment prospects were underscored by a corresponding drop in confidence about personal regular income which also significantly deteriorated from an optimistic 68.1 Index points to a neutral 57.1 Index points.
“Even though Australia continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the Western world, the highly publicised nature of recent job losses – especially in the banking and manufacturing sectors – look to be taking their toll on confidence in this area,” Cartwright added.
The Index also shows that the different generations have varying consumer confidence levels, with respondents aged 30 and under having an average Index score of 54.9 compared to a far lower Index score of 31.8 for those above 30 years old.
Now in its 20th year, the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence is one of Australia’s most comprehensive and longest running consumer confidence surveys. The latest survey was conducted from December 2011 to February 2012 and involved 12,915 respondents aged 18 – 64 in 25 countries.
 December key figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/allprimarymainfeatures/FB435B0F7C83FA1DCA2579B2000DBD69?opendocument
 http://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/tables/xls/c01hist.xlsStatistics from the monthly Reserve Bank Bulletin
 http://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/tables/xls/c05hist.xls Statistics from the monthly Reserve Bank Bulletin
The Index is based on a survey that measures consumer confidence on five economic indicators: Economy, Employment, Stock Market, Regular Income and Quality of Life. The Index score is calculated with zero as the most pessimistic, 100 as most optimistic and 50 as neutral.
For the full report go to: www.masterintelligence.com
The MasterCard Worldwide Index suite of research products in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa includes the flagship MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence, MasterCard Worldwide Indexes of Women’s Advancement, Online Shopping, Financial Literacy, and the recently launched inaugural Index of Global Destination Cities, all of which are released annually. In addition to the Index properties, MasterCard’s suite of research properties includes the MasterCard Worldwide Survey on Ethical Spending Behaviour and MasterCard Worldwide Survey on Consumer Purchasing Priorities series covering Travel, Dining & Entertainment, Education, Money Management, Luxury and General Shopping, which are released annually.
Besides these, MasterCard also regularly releases Insights reports which include research and analysis of business dynamics, financial policies and regulatory activities in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region. Over 80 Insights reports have been produced since 2004. MasterCard has also released a series of four books on Asian consumer insights, authored by Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Global Economic Advisor for MasterCard Worldwide and published by John Wiley & Sons. The MasterCard Indexes and Insights reports are available at www.masterintelligence.com
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