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Consumer confidence a mixed bag as holidays approach, findings suggest

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By Published On: October 10, 20220 Comments

As consumers grow more cautious with spending and consumption, their interest in the economy and optimism for the future has grown, suggests a new report from open web recommendation platform Outbrain.

In its new holiday shopping report assessing consumer confidence and habits, Outbrain reports the results of a survey conducted with more than 50,000 online consumers between June 2021 and July 2022, finding that consumer interest in the economy and finance opportunities has spiked at much the same rate as the cost of living crisis has grown in recent months. The report suggests page views for business and finance related content increased at a rate of 106 percent between May and June of this year to reach a two year high.

The report further finds that retailers and businesses taking advantage of this increased interest and concern for present economic conditions through marketing strategising are seeing a drive in consumer clicks to the tune of up to 39.5 percent. The retail market has also seen increased competitiveness and consumers becoming more cautious and contemplative when considering purchasing, the report suggests, as 65.5 percent of shoppers most cautious about making purchases are found to be much more likely to research products before considering purchasing compared to only 39 percent of other consumers.

““The research proves that the next few months will be absolutely pivotal for brands looking to set themselves up for lasting growth,” says Andy Burke, Managing Director APAC and Growth Markets at Outbrain, “If you want to reach new customers – establish a presence on multiple channels and be prepared for them to research your brand before making a purchase.”

Yet, as concern and interest in the economic climate has grown, Outbrain’s findings suggest that optimism for the future remains high. Of respondents to the survey, more than 60 percent reported feeling that they would be in a better financial position in six months time. This is in contrast to the latest consumer confidence findings for Australia from market researcher Roy Morgan, which finds a decrease in the number of Australians expecting their families to be ‘better off’ financially this time next year, down to 31 percent.

The number of Australians expecting ‘good times’ in the economy over the next 12 months has also declined, Roy Morgan finds, falling to only six percent compared to 36 percent expecting ‘bad times’ in the economy for the next year. Heading into the holiday season, however, the number of Australians believing that now is a ‘good time to buy’ household items has increased overall to 25 percent.

“The weakness in global financial markets through last week weighed on Australian consumers. A plethora of negative news last week ranging from the UK’s mini budget to hawkish Fed commentary impacted the AUD, which weakened to its two-year lows,” says David Plank, Head of Australian Economics for ANZ, “The jump in inflation expectations, likely linked to the end of the temporary petrol excise cut and uptick in petrol prices, also weighed on sentiment.”

Consumers aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch, as small Aussie retailers find themselves hit hard by the turbulent economic climate, leading as many as 17 percent of small business owners considering shutting down their small business according to new research from American Express. Surveying 500 Australian small business owners, the research also finds that 49 percent of the same small business owners suggest managing cash flow as being the most stressful part of running their business.

“Small business owners are some of the most resilient people in Australia,” says Alexi Boyd, CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), “but economic headwinds have created an environment where they are exhausted, mentally and financially.”

The same environment, it is predicted, will also continue to see fluctuations in consumer confidence in line with turbulence in the economy. As the ANZ’s Plank concludes, “Consumer confidence will remain fragile as long as market volatility is the dominant theme globally.”

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