By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: A Nielsen State of the Nation report has said that compared to the rest of the world, Australia is a nation of “Happy Vegemites”, marked by a rise in consumer confidence and the strongest economic outlook in more than two years. According to the report, Australians are positive about their ability to buy things that they need and want in 2011, meaning discretionary spending could be on the rise.

“59 per cent (the highest score globally) [of Australians surveyed] claimed the next 12 months was an excellent or good time to buy the things they want and need,” said Chris Percy, managing director, consumer group, Nielsen Pacific.

However, Percy also said that consumers were wallet wary. 

“Despite the positive outlook among Australians for the year ahead, we are still seeing evidence of cautionary behaviour with almost half of all consumers channelling their spare cash into savings (47 per cent) and 40 per cent using surplus cash to pay off debts, credit cards and loans.

“So while it is encouraging to see that Australia is currently the most optimistic developed market in the world, we can’t lose sight of the fact that we are still part of an uncertain and vulnerable global economy.”

Meanwhile, a Queensland retailer has told that they are “hurting a lot more now” and are missing the stimulus package.

“I don’t think 2011 is going to be any better, I don’t think it’s going to get any worse. We’re being really careful with what we order, what we need, and go step by step,” said the retailer.

“It’s just getting harder and harder.”

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