Australia: Country Pulse (June 2010)

by the Countries and Consumers team.

Hot topics in June 2010:

  • Middle class hit by bankruptcies.
  • Home-ownership
    dream dims for Gen Y.
  • Warehouse opening sparks bulk-buying frenzy.

Middle class hit by bankruptcies

More middle class consumers than ever before are declaring bankruptcy in Australia, according to a study conducted by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Corporate Law and Securities Regulation. Professor Ian Ramsay, a co-author of the report, said that having risen steadily over the previous four years, the number of personal bankruptcy filings jumped by 6% in 2008-09, to a record 27,520.

Professor Ramsay said that ”One of the biggest findings was that more and more of the middle class are being claimed by bankruptcy, and, to us, it seems a social problem that has escaped notice.” The major causes of the rise in bankruptcy among this group include unsustainable home loans and the excessive use of credit.

Home-ownership dream dims for Gen Y

A growing number of young Australians see themselves as lifelong renters as the dream of home ownership fades, a survey conducted during spring 2010 by the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia and Bankwest has found. The prospect of onerous debt has soured the hopes of more than half of the Gen Y consumers polled.

“Young Australians’ fading home ownership hopes come amid a 12.7% increase in home prices during the 12 months to February, which has taken the national median home price to A$455,000,” according to property information and analytics provider RP Data/Rismark. “I’m a Gen Y’er and have no hope of owning a home until there’s a structural adjustment in the economy, or we start treating housing as a place to live, rather than a privileged asset class for investors,” writes one irate blogger.

Warehouse opening sparks bulk-buying frenzy

Thousands of enthusiastic shoppers descended on Canberra’s new Supabarn Warehouse in the two days following its May opening, overwhelming staff and forcing management to purchase additional cash registers.

Consumers waited outside the bulk-buying business before its doors opened at 9am and from then on the queues never disappeared, sometimes snaking up the aisles of the warehouse. An estimated 5,000 customers came through the store during its first weekend. Last July, shoppers in Melbourne flocked to the first Costco in Australia, exhibiting a penchant for bulk-buying that had previously been unknown in the country.