Australians 'are enjoying record prosperity'

Aussies are living in prosperous times and are enjoying their strongest spending power for decades, a new study has suggested.

CommSec said its National Performance Gauge – which measures a range of factors including income per head, retail spending per head and consumer confidence – stood at a record high at the end of 2009 and rose by four per cent over the course of the year, the Australian Associated Press reported.

The study – which may serve as encouragement to Aussies who wish to compare credit cards and engage in a shopping splurge – also found that car affordability is the strongest it has been in 35 years.

It now takes a person on the average wage just under 30 weeks to buy a new Ford Falcon, down from 36 weeks five years ago.

In addition, CommSec revealed that income per head rose by six per cent during the same period while retail spending rose by seven per cent.

Spending power may receive a further boost if "excessive" credit card surcharges are abolished, as was recently proposed by the consumer advocate group Choice.

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