Nielsen has presented a very bleak outlook for retailers, with the global research organisation reporting that consumer confidence has “nosedived”. According to its rating system, consumer confidence is at its lowest since the second quarter of 2009.

 “Australian households are being hit hard with unrelenting price increases across the board,” said Nielsen Consumer Group MD Chris Percy.

“Consumers were aware that from 1 July, households would be hit by one of the biggest rises in the cost of living in decades, with electricity, water and gas prices all increasing.”

Click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter

“The January floods, which restricted supplies of fruit and vegetables, have had lingering effects on produce costs, causing food prices to rise. Belt-tightening is the norm for many households as price increases across multiple sectors continue to erode many family budgets.

“Economically, Australia is currently a polarised nation facing falling asset prices, high levels of government debt, growing inflation and rising interest rates, yet it is a country with low unemployment (4.9%), a booming resources sector and one of the strongest currencies in the world.

“It’s no surprise that consumers continue to be cautious in their borrowing and spending under such opposing fiscal conditions.”