SYDNEY: Uncertainty about the economy and jobs has knocked consumer confidence in Australia, latest figures from Nielsen show.
According to the research firm's latest sentiment index, confidence dropped six points from 103 to 97 between the second and third quarters of 2011.
With a score of 100 indicating neutral sentiment, this means that confidence has fallen into negative territory for the first time since the second quarter of 2009.
Australia's consumer confidence score remains comfortably ahead of the global average of 88.
This reflects the fact that Australia, buoyed by demand for its commodities, has avoided most of the worst of the credit crunch and economic downturn. It was one of the only mature markets to avoid going into recession in 2008-09.
Nevertheless, Nielsen also revealed that 34% of consumers believed the nation was "currently" in a recession in the third quarter, up seven percentage points from the previous quarter.
Just over one in four (27%) consumers said that the economy was their top concern, while 45% said that job prospects were "not good".
Chris Percy, managing director for the Pacific region at Nielsen Consumer Group, blamed worries about the current global economic volatility for helping to cause the erosion in confidence.
"Unfortunately, Australia has not been immune to what's happening to [the] rest [of] the world," he said. "A recessionary mindset is growing among consumers."
According to latest Warc forecasts, Australian GDP will rise by 1.7% this year.
Adspend across all paid-for media is also set to increase by 2.6%.
Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff