Australia: Full-blown coronavirus pandemic delivers biggest fall in consumer sentiment on record in April
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index tumbled to 75.6 in April from 91.9 in March, thus logging the sharpest month-on-month fall in the survey’s history, as the coronavirus outbreak morphed into full-blown pandemic. Therefore, sentiment plunged further below the 100-mark, indicating that there were more pessimists than optimists among Australian consumers. Moreover, the index recorded its worst reading since February 1991, logged amid the deep recessions of the early 1990s.
April’s decline was broad-based, although the largest falls were recorded for the near-term outlook for the economy and spending decisions. Consumers’ outlook over the general economic situation in the year ahead plummeted further into pessimistic terrain, and their expectations over the general economic situation in the next five years also lost ground, although the fall was significantly less pronounced. This likely caused a plunge in households’ willingness to buy major household items, which recorded the sharpest fall on record. Moreover, consumers’ confidence regarding their future financial situation weakened in April and their unemployment expectations worsened drastically. Furthermore, consumers’ assessments of “time to buy” and house prices expectations collapsed.