As restrictions to travel and the daily lives of South Australians open up, confidence has rebounded to levels not seen since November 2014 according to the data collected by Adelaide-based Square Holes.
Jason Dunstone, the founder and managing director of the market and cultural research agency, said the latest survey found that many South Australians struggled with the new reality and uncertainty of the future when COVID-19 hit in March and restrictions were introduced but things have quickly rebounded.
“The clouds seem to be clearing in the minds of South Australians as the temperature drops and rain comes,” Dunstone said, pointing to booked out restaurants and the June long weekend seeing local tourism centres being busier than the Adelaide CBD as examples.
“As the mood improves, and confidence will hopefully be maintained,” he said.
“Buoyant economies come from confident communities.”
According to the Square Holes monthly mind and mood representative survey of 400 South Australians, 46 per cent of respondents were confident looking towards the next 12 months at the end of May, after hitting a record low of 26 per cent in March and slightly increasing to 33 per cent in April.
“South Australians indicating they are ‘unconfident’ in the next 12 months has rebounded to approximate pre-COVID-19 norms,” Dunstone said.
“It has dropped to 17 per cent following a record high of 43 per cent in March and 30 per cent in April.”
Financial security in 12 months has also recovered since bottoming at a record low in March 2020.
At the end of May, 26 per cent of respondents indicated their financial security in 12 months would be better and 23 per cent worse.
“Most notably, those indicating they are anticipating their financial position to worsen in 12 months has settled back to normal levels since monitoring commenced in 2013,” Dunstone said.
It reached a record high of 38 per cent in March.”
Dunstone said many South Australians feel that their financial position continues to be worse than 12 months ago, with a record of 38 per cent in April followed by 34 per cent in March.
“There was the start of a rebound in May with the number dropping to 29 per cent,” Dunstone said.
“Those viewing their financial position as better compared with 12 months ago hit a record low of 18 per cent in April, increasing slightly to 20 per cent, but still below normal levels, in May.
“There is a sense that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on financial security.”
Dunstone said the Square Holes monthly mind and mood survey had also tracked aspects of mental health and found “a key learning from COVID-19 is the adaptability and resilience of South Australians at a community wide level.”
The survey found, for instance, that at the end of May, 63 per cent of South Australians indicated their mental health and wellbeing was about the same as 12 months ago (more on mental health can be found in the full report).
Dunstone said age was a key factor in how people were reacting to the situation.
“South Australians aged over 65 are in a more buoyant mood than other South Australians,” Dunstone said.
“They are reporting higher levels of positive financial and mental health.
“For South Australians aged over 50 their perceived mental health was stronger than their financial health, with 50 to 64 year olds having the highest proportion anticipating to be financially worse in 12 months.”
Dunstone cautioned, however, that as the health fears of COVID-19 start to subside, economic fears and consumer caution might increase.
As will be explored in next week’s mind and mood update, Square Holes’ research is illustrating South Australians rate the state as scoring well in food and drink, natural environment, sport, arts and culture, yet much lower for the economy and employment.
“It will be interesting to see how the year ahead unfolds,” Dunstone said.
“Let’s all hope for a renewed buoyant community confidence with all the economic benefits that this can bring.”
Visit the Square Holes website for more insights or to get involved in the South Australia Mind and Mood Research.
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