Consumer Pulse Report 2024

Despite high mortgage rates, pain at the checkout ranks as the No.1 concern for Kiwi consumers – Canstar’s 2024 Consumer Pulse report reveals the financial concerns that matter most to Kiwis.

Here at Canstar, we canvass the opinions of many thousands of ordinary Kiwi consumers every year. It’s research that forms the basis of our banking, KiwiSaver and insurance awards, and also our Consumer Pulse reports.

canstar LogoEach Consumer Pulse report drills down into generations and genders to discuss some of our standout financial findings, and reveals a yearly snapshot of the nation’s financial wellbeing.

This year, our Consumer Pulse report covers:

  • Financial pain points: Kiwi consumers’ money worries and debt levels
  • Piggy banks: savings habits and goals
  • Property: how homeowners are coping with high mortgage rates, and the aspirations of first home buyers

Download Canstar’s 2024 Consumer Pulse Report

Financial Pain Points

Financially, it’s been a tough few years for Kiwi families: the vast majority say they’ve experienced no let-up in financial pressure over the past year. And despite slowing inflation and the prospect of lower interest rates on the horizon, almost half don’t expect the squeeze on their wallets to ease over the next 12 months.

Topping the list of money worries for Kiwi consumers is the supermarket shop. Food prices were quick to rise, but have been far slower to reduce. Rent costs are a big worry, too, followed by mortgage interest rates. To make ends meet, 50% of survey respondents have had to curtail their weekly budgets.

Our Piggy Banks

While around a third of Kiwis are continuing to save regularly, more have taken on debt or been force to raid their rainy day funds. Over the past two years, the percentage of those dipping into their savings has risen from 27% to 38%.

Over the same timeframe, more Kiwis have taken on debt: up from 16% to 21%. And average monthly savings figures are down, dropping to around $350, from nearly $500 around 18 months ago.

However, on a positive note, more of us are taking a closer interest in our KiwiSaver investments. Over the past two years, more people have begun to take an active interest in the performance of their KiwiSaver and the fees they’re paying. Two years ago, around half knew their KiwiSaver balances, but that figure has increased to 56%.

Property Market Prospects

Everybody with a mortgage is feeling the pain of higher mortgages rates. Nearly half of the homeowners in our survey say they’ve refixed their mortgages during the past 12 months. More than a third (36%) say their payments have increased by between 30%-50%, while another 9% say their mortgages have gone up by over 50%.

But Kiwis homeowners are proving resilient. Even though mortgage rates now seem to be moving on a downward trajectory, most mortgage holders (70%) are prepared for their home loans to remain at elevated levels for a while yet.

And despite more expensive mortgages, the weak housing market has helped keep prospective first home buyers (FHBs) bullish. The percentage of FHBs who believe they can raise the funds for a deposit within four years has risen to just under 60%, up from 49% who felt the same at the peak of the property boom, in late 2021.

And KiwiSaver is playing an important role: 72% of FHBs plan to draw on their KiwiSaver to buffer their deposits, which is far higher than the 54% who planned on doing the same three years ago, in our first Pulse Survey.

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To read more about the financial worries and aspirations of consumers across the motu, or to download your own copy of Canstar’s 2024 Consumer Pulse Report, just click on the button below.

Download Canstar’s 2024 Consumer Pulse Report

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar’s Editor, Bruce Pitchers. Bruce has three decades’ experience as a journalist and has worked for major media companies in the UK and Australasia, including ACP, Bauer Media Group, Fairfax, Pacific Magazines, News Corp and TVNZ. Prior to Canstar, he worked as a freelancer, including for The Australian Financial Review, the NZ Financial Markets Authority, and for real estate companies on both sides of the Tasman.

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