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Media Release

South Australian consumers proud of the state’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis

Saturday, 9 May 2020

South Australian consumers have responded positively to the state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with 84 per cent proud of South Australia, compared to 63 per cent in February’s State Monitor, according to BankSA.

BankSA commissioned the research as an interim gauge on consumer confidence before the next scheduled BankSA State Monitor survey in July.

Overall consumer confidence dropped by 1.9 index points to 99.4, sitting marginally below the 100-point baseline, but still four points above last October’s all-time low of 95.2 points.

BankSA Chief Executive Nick Reade said the results showed South Australians were weathering the COVID-19 storm relatively well.

“South Australians are resilient, and the way people have supported restrictions is to be commended,” Mr Reade said.

“The BankSA survey shows the COVID-19 epidemic does not reflect a crisis in confidence in South Australia. Pride in our state has increased significantly, and despite restrictions, more people are confident their financial position will improve.

“The results show that 50 per cent of people were positive about their own household situation – up six per cent since February.”

In further good news for retailers, many of whom are re-opening after weeks of closures, 42 per cent of consumers reported confidence that the climate for spending will improve, compared to 32 per cent who were not confident.

The coronavirus pandemic had little impact on how people felt about unemployment since February, with an unchanged 40 per cent of respondents worried, and a greater number of people saying they were not worried (59 per cent, up from 55 per cent).

“The JobSeeker and JobKeeper initiatives have given many consumers confidence that their incomes are secure, and business support initiatives by the State and Federal governments have contributed to optimism that employers will see their way through the current period of restrictions,” Mr Reade said.

However, it was clear COVID-19 had hit consumer spending and business activity significantly, and these were the main contributors to the reduction in confidence overall.

Only 22 per cent of consumers were likely to make a major purchase in the next three months, compared to 41 per cent in February. Less than a third had made a significant financial purchase in the previous three months, compared to almost half in February.

Mr Reade said that many consumers were understandably cautious about household income, job security, the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, and employment not yet to returning to normal levels or conditions.

“However, as retailers begin to open their doors again, it’s important to back South Australian businesses as much as possible,” he said.

“Spending in the local economy keeps people in jobs, takes the pressure off the unemployment queues and helps build our state’s economy.”

Not unexpectedly, 70 per cent of consumers perceived that business activity had decreased, compared to 50 per cent in February. Additionally, only a quarter were confident they could change to a better job if needed, compared to 30 per cent two months earlier.

The sudden shift for many people to use new technology for work and staying in touch was reflected in two thirds of respondents who felt confident they could adapt to new technology, down from 73 per cent in February.