Widespread determination to cut expenses

Almost one out of three Austrians plan to spend less next year.

Insurance company Generali conducted a poll to find that 30 per cent of people residing in the small European Union (EU) and Eurozone member intended to tighten their belts in 2012. Seventeen per cent told the insurer they would cut back their holiday budgets while 12 per cent expressed the intention to spend less on clothes. Eleven per cent of Austrians will reduce their car expenses, Generali said yesterday (Thurs).

Fourteen per cent of Austrians told the insurance agency they expected to have more money available in 2012. However, 19 per cent revealed plans to spend more on furniture, accessories and other objects for their homes in 2012 than this year. Around 18 per cent said they would fork out more on vacations next year. The survey also shows that 15 per cent of Austrians will splash out more on health issues and sports in the coming year.

Meanwhile, an Imas poll disclosed that almost six in 10 Austrians were worried about how things would develop in 2012. The research group said on Wednesday that 57 per cent of the adult Austrians it spoke with admitted being concerned about the future. Imas added that just 37 per cent were optimistic about general, economic and personal developments in 2012.

It was the 40th time that Imas asked Austrians about their expectations for the new year. The public opinion group stressed that the number of people with negative feelings towards next year was nine per cent above the long-term average. Imas explained that especially people with a low level of education such as labourers were worried about what the future might bring. The agency added that pensioners were extraordinarily sceptical as well.

News that nearly a third of Austrians will reduce their spending in 2012 comes just days after the European Commission’s (EC) statistics authority Eurostat identified the country’s spending power as the fifth-highest in the EU. Only Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark fared better in 2010 in this concern.

Eurostat explained that Denmark overtook Austria from 2009 to 2010 to claim fourth place in the ranking. The organisation also said that Austrians’ purchasing power was 26 per cent higher than the average of the EU-27. Leader Luxembourg achieved a rate of 271 per cent, Eurostat added. Bulgaria was identified as the EU’s poorest member at 44 per cent.

Austrians’ purchasing power may depend on the development of the inflation rate in the country. Austria had an inflation of 3.6 per cent last month, meaning that the products and services on offer cost 3.6 per cent more in November than in the same month of 2010. The rate for October was only slightly lower at 3.4 per cent.

The Viennese Institute for Economic Research (WIFO) said that Austria’s annual inflation would be higher than the European average for the third year in a row in 2011. It said increased energy efficiency measures and more competition in the supermarket industry might help to lower it. WIFO added it expected the domestic inflation to drop to two per cent in 2012.