New Zealand consumer confidence fell below its long-run average in the June quarter as Kiwis become increasingly nervous about an economy being driven by population growth while per-capita growth stalls.
The Westpac McDermott Miller consumer confidence index fell 3.7 points to 106 in the June quarter, below the long-run average of 111.5. A reading above 100 indicates optimists outnumber pessimists. The presented conditions index was down 1.7 points to 110, while the expected conditions index dropped 5 points to 103.3.
The survey follows government figures last week showing gross domestic product expanded 0.7 per cent in the March quarter, beating estimates, although that was underpinned by population growth with the economy increasing just 0.1 per cent on a per capita basis.
A net 1.3 per cent of the 1,555 people surveyed expect the economic outlook to deteriorate over the coming year, compared to a net 1.4 per cent seeing an improvement in the March quarter, while a net 7.2 per cent see better times over a five-year horizon, down from 17 per cent three months earlier.
Westpac Banking Corp senior economist Satish Ranchhod said the increase in population has provided a buffer from headwinds facing the economy, but that hasn't stretched to households.
"Households, particularly those on middle incomes, have become increasingly worried about where the economy is heading over the next few years," Ranchhod said.
"The number of households expecting favourable conditions over the next year has fallen for the second quarter, and the number expecting positive economic conditions in five years time has plummeted to the lowest level in 25 years."
Still, the survey showed respondents were less pessimistic about their current financial situation, with a net 1.3 per cent saying it was worse than a year earlier, compared to 3.2 per cent in March, while 4 per cent expect their situation to improve over the coming year, down from 6.5 per cent.
A net 21.4 per cent said now was a good time to buy, down from 26.7 per cent in March, and below the long-run average of 26.5 per cent.
Ranchhod said low interest rates was a key reason for the resilience in consumer spending.
The survey was conducted between June 1 and June 12.