SYDNEY/AUCKLAND: Consumer confidence in Australia fell to a record low in Q2 2014 while sentiment remained stable in New Zealand, a regional breakdown of Nielsen's latest global consumer confidence index has shown.

With a score of 100 used to signal optimism, Nielsen found consumer confidence in Australia declined four points to 85, the country's lowest score since it began measuring global sentiment in 2005.

It was the fourth consecutive quarterly decrease and also represented a 13 point fall since the 98 points recorded in the same quarter last year.

By contrast, consumer confidence in New Zealand fell just one point to 99 in Q2 2014, although this was six points higher than the same period in 2013, Scoop reported.

The majority (56%) of New Zealanders were optimistic about their job prospects and personal finances whereas only one-third of Australians felt the same about job opportunities and less than half (48%) were optimistic about their personal finances.

The proportion of people who intend to buy over the next 12 months remained a minority in both countries, although Nielsen noted that this sentiment has not been reflected in underlying consumption activity – at least not in Australia.

Only 37% of Australians said they intend to buy over the coming year, down four points, but Nielsen said consumption expenditure had increased at an average 5.1% over the past year while retail sales growth also accelerated.

In New Zealand, however, where 41% of consumers intend to buy over the next 12 months, Nielsen found sentiment had not translated to increased spend.

"Compared to 2013, New Zealand had a relatively positive first half of the year," said Rob Clark, managing director of Nielsen NZ.

"However, there's still more people who see it as a bad time to buy things they want and need than good. Sentiment hasn't translated to an increase in spend, instead New Zealanders continue to direct spare cash into savings and paying down debt."

The survey also found that more than a third (34%) of Australians believed the rising cost of utility bills to be their biggest concern – up from 29% in Q2 2013 – making it the highest rate in the world.

Data sourced from Nielsen, Scoop; additional content by Warc