Canstar NZ Consumer Pulse Report 2022

From the price of groceries, to rising house prices and KiwiSaver – Canstar’s inaugural Consumer Pulse report reveals the financial concerns that matter most to Kiwi consumers.

Here at Canstar, we talk to a lot of ordinary Kiwis. Over the course of a year, we canvass the opinions of many thousands of New Zealand adults. It’s research that forms the basis of our banking, KiwiSaver and insurance awards…  and now our Consumer Pulse report.

For in addition to our research into the best consumer services and products, we also delve a little deeper, to put our finger on the pulse of the nation. We gauge people’s attitudes and opinions about their finances, and discover what’s keeping them up at night.

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While our findings are always interesting, the events of the past two years have had a remarkable effect on the country’s financial landscape. It’s been a major upheaval that has left many Kiwis feeling insecure about their finances.

It’s against this tumultuous backdrop that we are releasing our inaugural Canstar Consumer Pulse report. It drills down into generations and genders, to discuss some of our standout financial findings, and reveals a snapshot of the nation’s financial wellbeing.

The report covers:

  • Pain points: our money worries and debt levels
  • Piggy bank: our savings habits and goals
  • Property: the state of the nation’s housing affordability

Download Canstar’s 2022 Consumer Pulse Report


NZ Pulse Report Woman at Checkout

Consumer Pulse: Financial Pain Points

Some of the Consumer Pulse report’s main findings:

Households’ big squeeze

As the housing market has started to cool, Kiwis have become more concerned about the price of groceries than rising house prices. The ongoing economic fallout of COVID-19 and the price of food are now the country’s top worries.

We live outside our means

Almost a third of Kiwis worry about the state of their finances. And for good reason. Our research reveals that 58% of us spend more than we earn, and 20% live payday to payday.

As a result, 55% of those in our surveys have personal debt, mainly credit cards and personal loans. Across the county, the average debt is $23,000 per person, rising to an eye-watering $34,000 for Aucklanders.

Consumer Pulse: Our Piggy Banks

Some of the Consumer Pulse report’s main findings:

We’re terrible savers

Only 37% of those in our survey said they were able to continue saving throughout 2021. And nearly a quarter (23%) said they didn’t save anything at all.

Due to the pandemic and the restricted economic climate, last year 27% of us had to dip into savings, and 16% took on extra debt to live.

And those who are continuing to save are being incredibly cautious: 72% are still putting at least some of their money into savings accounts, despite historic low returns.

Some of us are getting into stocks and KiwiSaver

Kiwis in their 30s and 40s are leading the charge into investing in sharemarkets. Around 42% of this age group say they invest, compared to an average 22% of older Kiwis. The most popular investments are the tech sector, the financial sectors, energy and healthcare.

And while one in ten Kiwis invests via a managed fund, younger Kiwis are more reliant on online apps to support their investment portfolios.

We’re more invested in KiwiSaver

We’re heavily reliant on KiwiSaver: 42% say it will be their main source of retirement income, while only 35% will have other income streams.

Happily, we do keep an eye on our KiwiSaver: 53% have reviewed their KiwiSaver investment profiles over the past year.


Consumer Pulse: Property Market Prospects

Some of the Consumer Pulse report’s main findings:

FHBs priced out of the market

Last year saw crazy house price inflation. And as house prices rose, the number of Kiwis identifying as first home buyers shrunk dramatically, the most dramatic fall among those in their 40s.

And of those still keen to buy property, most are saving up to 30% of their income, while a majority (64%) also expect to draw on their KiwiSavers to buy a first home.

Young Kiwis are making sacrifices

The fading dream of homeownership is reflected by the number of people living with family to help save a deposit. At the start of 2021, 66% of Kiwis aged under 50 who were saving to buy a first home were living with family to do so. By year’s end, however, the number of Kiwis living at home to save had dropped to 50%.

Big houses, low interest rates, but no more!

We’re still in love with big houses: 78% of those surveyed own homes with 3+ bedrooms. And over last year, respondents say their interest rates rose an average 30 basis points. By the end of 2021, homeowners were paying an average of 3.3%, up from 3.04%. And rates are only set to track even higher through 2022.

Approximately 60% of existing loans need to be refinanced within the next 12 months, and the average one- and two- year fixed rates on Canstar’s database are already over 4%. Source: Based on owner occupier loans available for $500,000 and 80% LVR in Canstar’s database:

  • 1-Year Fixed Average: 4.06%
  • 2-Year Fixed Average 4.66%

So while it’s clear that Canstar’s 2022 Consumer Pulse Report paints a fascinating picture of our financial health, next year’s sequel looks set to be even more gripping.

To read or download your own copy of Canstar’s 2022 Consumer Pulse Report, just click on the button below.

Download Canstar’s 2022 Consumer Pulse Report

About the author of this page

Bruce PitchersThis report was written by Canstar’s Editor, Bruce Pitchers. Bruce began his career writing about pop culture, and spent a decade in sports journalism. More recently, he’s applied his editing and writing skills to the world of finance and property. 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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