Austria: Consumer confidence picks up in March
Consumer confidence rose to minus 6.0 in March from February’s minus 11.0. March’s result marked the strongest reading since February 2020. As such, the index moved closer to the neutral zero-threshold that separates pessimism from optimism among Austrian households.
The uptick in the headline reading reflected greater optimism regarding consumers’ financial situation in the year ahead and less downbeat views on the economy in the same time frame. Moreover, consumers judged the current time to be more suited to make major purchases. Lastly, consumers also considered the current time better suited to save, while their intention to save in the next 12 months rose as well.
The greater propensity to save at present and in the year ahead highlights that consumers will likely continue to save precautionarily amid lingering uncertainty over the evolution of the pandemic and its impact on the economy; panelists on average expect the unemployment rate to rise this year as fiscal support measures are rolled back to an extent. Moreover, an elevated savings rate suggests that growth in household spending might be softer than anticipated, which would weigh on the overall economic recovery. Eurostat data showed that the gross household saving rate in Austria stood at 24.0% in the fourth quarter of last year on a calendar- and seasonally-adjusted basis.