While they may be the keenest shoppers, Australian women are not so confident compared to men, the latest MasterCard consumer confidence index (MWICC) has revealed.

The MIICC found Australian women scored a pessimistic 34.4 out of a possible score of 100 in consumer confidence. The finding takes into account views on employment, the economy, regular income, the stock market and quality of life for the coming six months.

This is in contrast to sentiment among Australian men, who scored a comparatively buoyant 46.5. Overall Australia scored 40.3, a figure that remained stable with the previous index score of 39.2 six months ago and positioned the country as the fourth least optimistic of the 14 countries surveyed in the region.

MasterCard Australia country manager Andrew Cartwright said the solemn consumer mood is reinforced by payment industry figures.

“Payment data reflects consumer sentiment. RBA data over the past few years has shown that when it comes to spending, Australians are taking a conservative approach preferring to pay down debt than extend it,” he said.

“In the last year, the total credit card balances accruing interest in Australia fell by over $1 billion – about 3 per cent. That’s a sure sign that consumers are feeling cautious.

“At the same time Debit card spending has continued to grow at double digit rates driven by Australians’ continued shift toward using their own money for purchases.”

The report also found the primary concerns for Australian women included quality of life, which registered a low score of 29., and employment with a similarly low 23. The findings follow the most recent unemployment data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics in December, which revealed the unemployment rate has risen slightly to 5.4 per cent from 5.3 per cent in November.

The index found the most optimistic country in Asia Pacific is Indonesia (87.5), while the most pessimistic country in the region was Japan (23.7). Consumer confidence across the entire Asia Pacific region scored 59.7.