CONSUMERS STILL CONCERNED BY 2010 FORECAST

CONSUMERS STILL CONCERNED BY 2010 FORECAST

DESPITE the positive rhetoric pedaled by experts predicting that the economic downturn is largely over, a new survey has found that 28 per cent of Gold Coast residents are still worried about meeting their weekly expenses.

The independent survey commissioned by Suncorp, found Gold Coast residents to be more concerned about paying their bills from week to week (28%) than the performance of their superannuation (19%) or paying off a personal debt (19%).

Suncorp Bank executive manager Tony Meredith, says the results suggest that consumers are treading cautiously into 2010.

“The fact 28 per cent of respondents are concerned about meeting their weekly financial obligations may indicate Queenslanders’ confidence in the job market is shaken following a difficult 2009,” says Meredith.

“While the worst of the economic crisis seems to be behind us and job vacancies appear to be on the increase, consumers don’t seem certain about the future. A strengthening economy and speculation of another interest rate rise when the Reserve Bank meets next month may also be causing concern.”

The survey found Queenslanders who were 25 to 34 years old are the only age group not to rate paying their bills from week to week their number one concern.

The biggest financial concern for 25 to 34-year-olds was paying off a home loan (28%) while 21% said they were concerned about paying off personal debt and only 16% said they were concerned about meeting their weekly financial obligations.

“My suggestion to all consumers as they begin the New Year is to go back to basics, draft a budget, pay off as much outstanding debt as possible and regularly set aside a portion of what they earn to save for the future,” says Meredith.

At the cash register side, executive director of the Australian Retail Association (ARA) Russell Zimmerman, says retailers are seeing their perseverance being slowly rewarded with more than 40 per cent reporting trade to be up when compared to the same time in 2009/2010.

“Versatile retailers are aggressively converting browsers to shoppers with enticing sales combined with good customer service and competitive prices,” he says.

“Looking forward, there is a fair amount of optimism brewing as 70 per cent of retailers predicted trade for the week ahead to match or increase sales during from the same time last year.

“With a relatively challenging year behind us, retailers should look at 2010 as a year that provides opportunities to stabilise, improve and grow.”

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