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Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey Findings: December 2019

The Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey is a long-term project for Energy Consumers Australia. It is designed to provide information on household and small business consumer sentiment with a focus on the three key areas of satisfaction, confidence and activity. As the survey is undertaken every six months it tracks changes in sentiment over time and detects trends which can inform energy market and policy development in the long-term interests of consumers. We publish the data from each survey so that stakeholders are able to undertake analysis of the changes that are most of interest to them, concerning outcomes for consumers in electricity and gas markets.

The results for December 2019 show significant changes in national trends over time, since the first survey results were reported in June 2016. Almost all measures of satisfaction and confidence are high in December 2019, having improved in recent years. However, consumer trust in energy markets remains low, particularly for households.  

  • With the exception of satisfaction with reliability, satisfaction measures for both households and businesses are at the highest levels since June 2016 (noting that satisfaction measures were at their lowest in December 2017).
    • Satisfaction with value for money for electricity is now at 53% and for gas is now 66% compared with satisfaction with mobile phone providers (74%), banking (71%) and internet providers (68%).
  • Satisfaction with reliability has reflected changing consumer experiences with outages, which vary state to state.
    • At the national level satisfaction with reliability for households has fluctuated but in December 2019 is similar to levels in June 2016.
      • Satisfaction with the number of outages is 73% in December 2019, slightly lower than in June 2016 (75%)
      • Satisfaction with the length of outages is 65% in December 2019 compared with 64% in June 2016.
    • For businesses, satisfaction in December 2019 is higher than in June 2016. For number of outages this is 71% compared with 59% and for length of outages it is 65% compared to 61%.
  • Most confidence measures have improved to be at the highest levels in December 2019 since we began the survey. This is likely to reflect the cumulative impact of the measures initiated by governments – including those in response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry and the Review of Electricity and Gas Markets in Victoria (the Thwaites Review) – and ongoing price monitoring.
  • The results for consumer confidence that the market is working in their interests – or trust –  are mixed.   
    • Trust remains largely unchanged for households, comparing December 2019 with June 2016 – 33% and 32% respectively.
    • For small businesses however there has been some improvement in trust from 36% in June 2016 to 41% in December 2019.

Full survey results from the eighth survey are available in the report, and in the data files. National Business and National Household trends are also available.

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