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Kiwis focus on debt repayment and saving

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Kiwis focus on debt repayment and saving for a rainy day, but out-of-home entertainment still a priority

The most common destination for New Zealanders’ spare cash is repaying debt

Out-of-home entertainment second greatest priority for Kiwi dollars

One in three putting spare cash into savings and deposit accounts

AUCKLAND, 26 November 2004: Results of a global study released today by research company ACNielsen, found that New Zealanders cited repaying debt as the most likely way of spending their spare cash. One in three said they were likely to put spare cash into a savings/deposit account.

The bi-annual online survey of 14,000 consumers in 28 markets across Asia Pacific, Europe and the US, was conducted in October 2004. Survey respondents were asked to identify how they spend their spare cash once all essential living expenses had been covered; their thoughts on the country’s economic performance over the past six months and over the next 12 months; and to indicate their greatest concerns over the next six months.

Globally, New Zealanders ranked in the top five countries (together with Malaysia, Philippines, Australia and the UK) likely to spend their spare dollars on debt, supporting reports of increasing debt across the country. But while the amount of debt held by New Zealanders is obviously on the up, the second most likely way New Zealanders spend their spare cash is out-of-home entertainment, indicating they are still looking to enjoy life and are not curbing their discretionary spending.

“New Zealand’s debt levels are an increasing concern, particularly with forecast interest rate rises,” says Alistair Watts, Managing Director, ACNielsen New Zealand. “However, it is surprising to see that New Zealanders are not looking at alternate ways of reducing their debt level, with out-of-home entertainment still high on the spending priority list.”

There is a lack of interest in New Zealand to make superannuation payments although the willingness to contribute to superannuation or pension schemes is not out of line with other countries aross Asia Pacific. However, although one in three New Zealanders place their spare cash in savings or deposit accounts, this is much lower than other countries in Asia Pacific where less spare cash is spent on out-of-home entertainment and much more on savings.

When asked their thoughts on the country’s economic performance, 48 per cent of New Zealanders believed the economy had improved over the past six months, up from 37 per cent in May.

Confidence remains strong looking forward with 73 per cent of New Zealanders believing that over the next 12 months the economy would either improve or stay the same, up slightly from the May survey.

“New Zealanders have confounded predictions that they will cool their spending and have kept the economy running well above trend through the first half of 2004,” Mr Watts says. “With the Kiwi dollar remaining strong and unemployment at record lows, it’s not surprising that New Zealanders believe the economy has improved and will continue to do so.”

Similar to New Zealand, consumer confidence across the Asia Pacific region continues from strength to strength, with consumers in the majority of Asian countries standing out as the most upbeat among all three regions surveyed. A healthy 40 per cent thought there had been an improvement in economic conditions over the past six months, and 53 per cent expected that improvement to continue for the year ahead.

US and European respondents were less impressed with their countries’ performance, with 48 per cent and 40 per cent respectively indicating their economy had deteriorated in the past six months. Americans were positive about the year ahead, however, with 43 percent believing their economy would improve.

The ACNielsen survey also asked participants to rate their greatest concerns over the next six months, with health and job security the two biggest concerns facing New Zealanders (both 18 per cent). Although still topping the list, New Zealand’s job security concerns were down six per cent from six months ago. whilst health concerns were down just two per cent.

####

About ACNielsen
ACNielsen, a VNU business, is the world’s leading marketing information company. Offering services in more than 100 countries, the company provides measurement and analysis of marketplace dynamics and consumer attitudes and behaviour. Clients rely on ACNielsen’s market research, proprietary products, analytical tools and professional service to understand competitive performance, to uncover new opportunities and to raise the profitability of their marketing and sales campaigns.

For further information, please visit http://www.acnielsen.co.nz

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