Consumer Anxiety Index rose to 61.8 points in Q1 of 2015 (60.1 in Q4’14), after a brief improvement in the previous quarter.
Government policy has overtaken cost of living as the single biggest cause of consumer stress with higher concern evident in all categories except health.
“Government policy is now the single biggest cause of anxiety for consumers, just ahead of cost of living, while job security continues to cause the least stress,” NAB chief economist Alan Oster
With the increase in anxiety, consumer priorities are shifting to allocating a bigger share of the household budget to paying off debt, utilities and medical bills, while cutting back on many “non-essentials”, such as entertainment and household items.
“In terms of their overall household financial position, however, not having enough to retire, being able to provide for the family’s future and meet medical costs were causing the greatest concern” Oster said.
Mortgage, rent and housing costs scored over 50 on a scale out of 100 where 0 = "not at all concerned" and 100 = extremely "concerned".
The Q1 survey also showed anxiety was most pronounced among self employed, lower income earners and consumers in Victoria and Queensland.
Those who reported a fall in anxiety were professional workers, part time workers and consumers living in Tasmania, NSW/ACT and rural towns/bush.