The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index rose 4.2 per cent in February from 97.3 points in January to 101.3 points in February.
Retail Council CEO Anna McPhee says this positive consumer sentiment reading supports reports that consumers are spending when the retail offering is meeting their needs and wants, with three of the past four months recording a reading above 100.
“Lower fuel prices should act as a boost to household budgets and have likely underpinned the rise in some of the sub-indices such as ‘time to buy a major household item’ and ‘family finances versus a year ago’ and ‘family finances over the next 12 months’,” she said. “These are all positive indicators that support rising consumer activity.
“We are, however, cautious about being too positive about the reading, but would mark this as an early indicator of household sentiment stabilising. There continues to be an underlying fragility among consumers about economic conditions over the next 12 months and declining confidence around the jobs market, despite the current low unemployment rate. The reduced level of confidence in these areas could upset sentiment and rising consumer activity in the months ahead.”