Chinese consumers in mixed mood

02 August 2012

BEIJING: Consumer confidence levels are displaying considerable variation across China, with shoppers in major cities becoming more positive while pessimism grows in many other areas.

Nielsen, the research firm, polled 3,500 people, and found its barometer of public sentiment reached 107 points in Tier 1 markets like Shanghai and Beijing, up from 101 points three months earlier.

The causes for this renewal in optimism included improving perceptions on the employment market and a greater positivity regarding respondents' personal financial circumstances.

Elsewhere, the total for rural respondents hit 113 points for the second quarter of this year, versus the 119 points recorded in the previous round of analysis.

However, the most substantial decline on this measure was among contributors in Tier 2 cities, where figures fell by 13 points to 58%, according to Nielsen's study.

The overall reading for consumer confidence stood at 105 points, the lowest score since the third quarter of 2011, but still 14 points ahead of the international average.

When assessing employment prospects for the next 12 months, 92% of people surveyed in the Chinese countryside were in upbeat mood, falling to 59% in Tier 1 cities.

By contrast, participants from second, third and fourth tier markets became increasingly pessimistic, leading to a drop of 14 points on the same metric.

The national willingness to spend was also at its weakest in three quarters, although residents of Tier 1 areas did log a fourth successive quarterly improvement here.

Consumers in the 30–39 year old age group exhibited a more robust desire to spend than their younger counterparts for the first time since the opening three months of last year.

Digital gadgets, home appliances and furniture were the product categories attracting the most interest among both of these groups, the study added.

However, further differences did remain, as shown by the fact 44% of under-30 year olds hoped to buy digital devices, rising to 35% of 30–39 year olds.

Data sourced from Reuters; additional content by Warc staff