Consumer confidence rises in Asia

22 April 2010

SINGAPORE: Consumer confidence is continuing to rise in Asia but this may not translate into increased sales, a survey covering six markets in the region has found.

Insights Asia, the consultancy, polled 2,700 people in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in order to establish their current attitudes and likely habits over the next 12 months.

In China, the consumer confidence index stood at 125 points, well above the score of 100 points indicating sentiment was neutral and three points ahead of the total recorded in a similar study in Q4 2009.

A 55% majority of respondents in the world's most populous nation described the domestic economic climate as being "somewhat better" than 12 months ago, while 17% believed it was "much better".

However, only 24% agreed with the statement that now was a "somewhat good" or "very good" time to invest in major household items like furniture, a refrigerator or a television set.

A further 36% intended to boost their outlay on food in the coming year, while 55% will maintain their expenditure and 8% will cut back.

Some 41% are due to increase their spending on holidays, with 34% doing the same for eating out and 32% for entertainment, while less than 20% will seek to reduce their costs in each category.

Contributors were more pessimistic in Indonesia, where 20% of the sample thought the national fiscal environment had improved during the last year, and 27% forecast an uptick in GDP going forward.

A third of survey participants in the country were found to be satisfied with their personal financial situation, while 52% were positive about their outlook in this area over the period to Q1 2011.

Some 84% of Indonesians will boost or maintain their food budget in this timeframe, with 70% also adopting this approach for travel, eating out and entertainment.

However, while 80% of those polled in the country gave a favourable assessment to their employment and income prospects, just 7% believed it was a good time to buy big-ticket items.

In Malaysia, respondents delivered a rating of 144 points in terms of both their personal finances and the national economy as a whole.

Indeed, people in the country posted improvements of more than 50% on almost all of the broad fiscal measures featured in Insight Asia's survey.

Despite this, a minority of 13% were planning to make major purchases in the near future, while 57% will spend more on food, falling to 25% for holidays, 35% for eating out and 19% for entertainment.

The consumer confidence barometer reached 138 points in Singapore, where more than two thirds of individuals also gave the current and future economic climate a positive evaluation.

Sentiment was also optimistic when it came to the employment market and income levels, with a plurality of consumers expecting their salaries to rise by the first quarter of 2011.

More than a third of contributors in Singapore were considering acquiring items like a TV or fridge in the next 12 months, while over 40% were set to commit more resources to food and eating out.

However, a similar number will rein in their expenditure on holidays and travel, while 30% will trim their expenses tied to entertainment.

In Vietnam and Thailand, confidence scores came in at 132 points and 93 points respectively, but around 30% of shoppers in each nation expressed a desire to buy big-ticked items.

Data sourced from Insights Asia; additional content by Warc staff