South Australian consumers less positive but businesses getting on with the job
15 August 2023
Confidence among South Australian consumers decreased for the third consecutive survey and its lowest level since February 2020 with concerns about the economy and their own finances top of mind.
The BankSA State Monitor July survey showed that consumer confidence has decreased 3.4 points since February to 107.8. However, business confidence has increased by 5.1 points to 115.6 points for the same period. Both measures continue to sit comfortably above the 100-point benchmark indicating that generally both businesses and consumers remain more optimistic than pessimistic overall.
BankSA State General Manager Business, David Firth, said this survey saw a divergence in confidence levels between households and businesses.
“We’ve seen business confidence rebound this survey following two previous declines, while consumer confidence continued the downward trajectory of the previous two surveys,” said Mr Firth.
“This fall in consumer confidence was driven by a 13 per cent increase in people concerned about their own household situation, both now and over the coming 12 months.
“While confidence still sits in positive territory overall, we can see cost-of-living pressures are having an ongoing effect.”
Consumers ranked the cost of energy as their highest concern amongst key external factors. Additionally, wages relative to the cost of living, availability of property to rent or buy, interest rates, and petrol prices all featured in consumers’ top issues of concern.
“However, we saw an increase in people who had made a significant purchase in recent months and those still intending to make a significant purchase over the coming months, with many likely taking advantage of mid-year sales and using their savings,” said Mr Firth.
Business confidence increased with businesses employing more staff over the past three months, and increased intention to continue hiring in the coming months.
“Businesses remain resilient and are getting on with the job despite the ongoing uncertainty,” said Mr Firth.
“We saw a 19 per cent increase in businesses taking on more employees in recent months and a 12 per cent uplift in hiring intentions for the coming months. Businesses also indicated a 16 per cent increased intention to make a major purchase over the next 12 months.
“These are strong indicators that sit at the core of running a business – hiring and investing - demonstrating increased optimism that owners have for the outlook of their businesses.”
More businesses said they felt better about their own situation (up 8 per cent). They were also less worried about a downturn in turnover and more optimistic their business would improve over the next 12 months (both up 2 per cent).Consumers and businesses revealed their top five financial goals for 2023 as:
In other key findings include:
- Consumers in the in the 25-34 age group saw the largest decline. The 50-64 age group also declined and has now fallen below the 100-point benchmark.
- Consumers aged 18-24 remain the most confident.
- Blue collar workers recorded a greater decrease in confidence than white collar workers.
- Male consumers are significantly more confident than female consumers.
- The Construction, Recreational and Finance sectors reported the largest increases in confidence and are the most confident industries overall.
- Confidence in the Retail, Manufacturing and Community Services industries is below their long-term average.
- Larger businesses with more than $1m turnover continue to be the most confident.
- Confidence among small businesses with turnover of less than $0.5m rebounded by 7.1 points but still sits below the below the 100-point benchmark.
Consumer confidence in South Australia’s rural regions decreased by 3.8 points in July to 106.9 points, reversing gains from the previous survey. Regional business confidence decreased by 2.7 points to 103.1 points this survey.
“The West and North region was the stand-out, recording increases in both business confidence (up 11.9 per cent) and consumer confidence (up 1.0 per cent),” said Mr Firth.
“Conversely, both the Mid North & Riverland and Southern regions experienced a decline in both business and consumer confidence. The largest decline has seen business confidence in the Southern region fall below the 100-point benchmark.”
This survey was conducted between 4-10 July 2023. The State Monitor is unique as the only survey that measures just South Australian consumer and business confidence. The independent survey is based on a statewide phone survey of 300 consumers and 300 small business owners and managers, representative of the population and business community, conducted by the Action Market Research. It is the 81st monitor in a series that has tracked consumer and business confidence in South Australia since 1997. A baseline of 100 points is used to which the overall survey results are either added or deducted. A result greater than 100 represents a positive result and therefore more optimistic respondents than pessimistic, while a result less than 100 represents a negative result meaning there are more pessimistic respondents than optimistic. The maximum margin of error when generalising the results from the sample surveyed to the population is +/-6% at a 95% confidence level.