WA households optimistic on economy and changing home & work preferences

Aaron Morey

CCIWA Chief Economist

Western Australians maintain a bright outlook according to CCIWA’s first Consumer Confidence Survey in 2021. The survey also reveals important insights into Western Australians’ changing preference for flexible work and their living arrangements.

Reaching ten-year highs in December, WA’s consumer confidence edged up again to its highest level since March 2010. In the short term, close to half (46%) of Western Australians expect current economic conditions to hold steady, while four in ten (42%) expect the economy to improve. Meanwhile one in ten (13%) believe conditions will worsen. There is more optimism over the long term, with six in ten (60%) anticipating a stronger economy in the next 12 months. The State Government’s management of the virus, positive news about the national vaccine rollout, and record low interest rates are the most significant factors underpinning confidence.

While two in five respondents (38%) reported ‘high’ levels of concern about an uncontrolled outbreak, overall concern about COVID-19 has declined for a third consecutive quarter, down 16 points since Australia successfully contained several outbreaks.

Meanwhile Western Australians expect flexible and work-from-home arrangements are here to stay. Among those whose work can be conducted at least partly from home, six in ten (59%) now prefer to do so. A clear majority (67%) of respondents said their employer was supportive of staff working from home some of the time, with one in ten (10%) employers opposed.

There is also strong evidence that lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 have changed people’s preferences about where they live. Asked to compare with their pre-COVID views, Western Australians are 21% more likely to prefer a suburban rather than inner-city home and 27% are more likely to prefer a larger block or home. Further, 31% are more likely to prefer a house, rather than an apartment. These changes are principally driven by the shift in preferences among younger respondents.

This will put more pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers and precincts, further highlighting the need to ease WA’s outdated shopping restrictions. To underwrite continued high consumer confidence and a more secure economy, the WA Government should implement key CCIWA recommendations, including achieving a more competitive tax mix and better enabling parents to return to the workforce after having children.

Read the full CCIWA Consumer Confidence Report here

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