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Customer anxiety easing, though shopping behaviour remains changed

With rising unemployment, sector-wide pay cuts and a general feeling of uncertainty pervading every step of the last few months, it’s little wonder most consumers have been feeling anxious.

However, with the easing of restrictions and a general shift back toward ‘normal life’, consumer anxiety has been relaxing and spending habits are becoming less conservative, according to NAB’s latest Consumer Anxiety Survey.

Compared to the prior quarter, anxiety levels have fallen slightly, from 57.3 to 57, where a score of 100 means consumers are extremely concerned. And while anxiety remains highest in Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT (58.4), all others states saw decreases quarter to quarter to levels below the headline figure.

NAB’s survey also pointed to a decline in the number of consumers who are going to be cutting back on spending this quarter, though still well below levels seen this time last year, and noted that spending is still dominated by shopping for essentials.

The biggest gain in non-essential spending was seen in eating out, entertainment, travel, and on charitable donations.

And when asked about the changes to the way they have spent their money over the last three months, 23 per cent of consumers said they have purchased online to avoid stores, 18 per cent said they have bought items online they otherwise wouldn’t have, and 43 per cent said they have avoided shopping centres – signaling the major changes in consumer behaviour seen during the peak of the pandemic.

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