Consumer sentiment bucks national trend

By Greg Bell

The potential for retail leasing on the Gold Coast to reach fever pitch is increasing, as consumer confidence data points to strong results throughout Queensland. The Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment for April shows that while some parts of the country struggled, the same cannot be said for the Sunshine State.

Consumer sentiment was up 7.4 per cent throughout the month, while the national result marked a decline of four per cent.

Why consumer confidence matters

Businesses across all sectors are likely to keep a close eye on consumer sentiment indicators such as this one, not least because they have such a significant bearing on their operations. The more confident people are, the more positive they generally feel about their personal finances and the greater their expenditure will be.

Queensland treasurer Curtis Pitt explained that there's plenty of cause for celebration at the moment. People have many different reasons to be optimistic, including the strength of the state's economy and the prospect of future growth.

"More than 71,000 jobs have been created in Queensland since the last election and the trend unemployment rate is at a two-year low," Mr Pitt commented.

"Queenslanders are clearly more confident about the future and more willing to spend with local businesses, but there are patches where this isn't so."

Other parts of the country start to struggle

Although commercial property on the Gold Coast might be in high demand, other areas of the country have recorded less-than-impressive results when it comes to consumer confidence. The index showed that on a national basis, four out of the five sub-indices declined compared to a year earlier. The only one to have risen was the perception of now being a good time to buy a major household item, which marked an increase of one per cent.

People's views on the future of the economy were down 5.5 per cent for the coming 12 months, while expectations over the next five years fell 5.9 per cent.

Chief economist at Westpac Bill Evans said conditions in the national and international markets are creating unease at the moment. However, the domestic currency is now starting to regain some ground, reaching a nine-month high in recent weeks.

"Given that rebalancing of the economy towards service exports – tourism and education in particular – has been an important positive development over the last two years, respondents may now be interpreting any increase in the AUD as adverse for future growth," noted Mr Evans.

Interest rate expectations

One factor that could influence future consumer sentiment is the official cash rate. The Reserve Bank of Australia is next due to meet on 3 May and with the cash rate still at an all-time low, there will be high expectations for what its decision will be.

However, Westpac believes the two per cent cash rate will remain for the time being at least possibly even until the end of the year. Whether this has any significant bearing on people's outlook is yet to be seen, but it will be interesting to see how consumers respond if the current period of stability is able to continue.

Conditions in Queensland seem to be working in businesses' favour at the moment, which could mean that now is the ideal time to buy commercial property on the Gold Coast. We're on hand to help guide you through the process and find a piece of real estate that fits within your ambitions.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with our team to discuss more about the available options and make your first steps onto the commercial property ladder.

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