New year resolutions set to pay off for New Zealand

D&B data shows decrease in debt referrals

Kiwis who resolved to make 2012 the year to address their debt remain on track, according to the latest debt referral data released by Dun & Bradstreet today.

Across the two islands, both the total value and number of debt referrals have declined across the 12-month period to the September 2012 quarter, although the traditional Christmas period spending splurge may test New Zealanders’ debt commitment.

The total number of debt referrals received by Dun & Bradstreet has declined by 25 per cent overall, with the total value of those debts falling 12 per cent during the same period.

“Given the general financial pressures that New Zealand households have been under, it’s encouraging to see that the volume and level of debt coming into Dun & Bradstreet have been coming down,” said John Scott, General Manager of D&B New Zealand.

“While not enough to drop below the early 2011 levels, these figures suggest that New Zealanders have been addressing their debts and are taking a more cautious approach with their financial position.

Debt referrals percentage decrease, Q3 2011-Q3 2012

“We will be keen to see if that trend holds for the final quarter of the year, as our latest Consumer Credit Expectations Survey indicated that more than two-thirds of New Zealanders were less likely to spend on non-essentials over the Christmas period compared to the same time last year,” Mr Scott said.

Across the country, Christchurch experienced the greatest fall in debt referrals (34 per cent) for the 12 months to the September quarter, with Wellington decreasing by 17 per cent.

The most populous city, Auckland, saw referral volumes for its residents drop by the smallest amount nationally, with a 14 per cent decrease across a fairly volatile 12 months. Auckland also bucked the national trend and registered an increase in the value of its debt referrals over that period.

According to Stephen Koukoulas, D&B’s economic advisor, the decline in debt referrals across the past 12 months is part of a broader set of improving economic data to come out of New Zealand.

“High debt and low savings have been unwelcome characteristics of New Zealand’s household sector for many years, however, the recent trends in the latest debt referral data suggest a step in the right direction,” he said.

“The general economic picture in New Zealand remains solid, with economic growth looking to pick up during 2013 helped by very low interest rates and signs of a buoyant housing market. That said, we still see some caution from consumers as they increasingly look to scale back on their debt positions, especially with the unemployment rate still relatively high,” Mr Koukoulas added.

Amid the positive signs for New Zealand’s economy, the data collected by Dun & Bradstreet showed that the majority of debt is still being carried by the country’s younger generations. Debtors aged 25-44 years accounted for approximately 50 per cent of the debt referrals made in the third quarter of 2012, while those aged between 18-24 years accounted for 23 per cent.

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