Overall consumer confidence remains steady, despite a distinct split between Australians who are positive about the year ahead versus those who are not, according to the latest Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index.

Confidence continues to linger at 96 points for in third quarter of 2013, but this remains significantly lower than the high confidence that was displayed by Australians just three years ago when the Index hit 115.

“We are still well short of the soaring confidence seen in the market just three years ago,” said Chris Percy, Nielsen Pacific managing director.

“However consumer confidence has steadied in recent months and intentions to buy goods is slowly on the increase, which is cause for optimism among the retail sector in the lead-up to Christmas.

“The potential inhibitor for some areas and regions will be job prospects. Levels of concern around employment remain significantly higher than three years ago, despite Australia’s relatively modest unemployment levels.”

Correspondingly, 25 per cent of Australians said their job prospects are currently causing them concern – an increase on three years ago when it was just one in eight (13 per cent) respondents said future employment was a major worry.

“There is an obvious and stubborn divide among consumers’ perceptions for the next 12 months, separating those who are optimistic from those who aren’t,” Percy said.

“For every four Australians that are positive about their job prospects, there are five who are not. Likewise, for every 11 people who are hopeful about their personal finances in the year ahead, there are eight who are not.

“These divergent trends are exactly those that challenge marketers. We have an environment that craves value and a market that really wants to trade up. Our work with leading retailers and manufacturers now focuses around decoding these trends to allow businesses to attract both sectors of the divide.

“And in a market that has had to plough through trade pressures, currency fluctuations and a robust political year, this focus on consumer outlook has never been more important.”