A sharper than expected shift by consumers towards saving should encourage the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to maintain interest rates at current levels, a leading real estate group executive has said ahead of today’s rate decision.
“The overall sentiment has been to minimise debt and save money,” said Laing+Simmons general manager Leanne Pilkington. “The dramatic increase in the level of consumer saving has surprised many.”
She said last week’s release of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures, which revealed a 3.6 per cent increase in the year to June, had “little to do with a hike in consumer demand and everything to do with the ongoing impact of the natural disasters.”
“We are gradually seeing the effects of the floods and Cyclone Yasi and growing food and energy prices impact the retail marketplace. The strain on family resources and the reticence to spend is becoming very obvious in the economy.
“From a real estate industry perspective, the US debt crisis has most certainly affected the confidence of all segments of the market – owner occupiers, first home buyers and investors.
“People are naturally inclined to stay put during times of instability and this has flowed on to lesser activity in the residential property marketplace.
“Market activity has stalled in many areas around Australia as prices show an overall decline and clearance rates weaken. Because of this we would call on the RBA to keep interest rates unchanged tomorrow as any rise will obviously have a dampening effect in an already sluggish market."