SINGAPORE: Consumer confidence across Southeast Asia remains higher than the global average, but some countries in the region showed lower levels of optimism in the final quarter of 2013.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions polled more than 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism respectively.

Indonesia continued to lead the way with an index score of 124, a four-point rise on the third quarter of last year. The Philippines, however, fell four points to 114, while Thailand was down three points to 109.

Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore were the least optimistic, with all three coming in just under 100. Vietnam, however, was on an upward trajectory that took to its score of 98, while the other two had fallen back to 98 and 97 respectively.

"Whilst the Malaysian consumer confidence has slipped below the 100 mark for the first time in three years, Malaysia remains one of the stronger countries globally," Richard Hall, managing director for Nielsen Malaysia, told Marketing Interactive.

He added, however, that increased taxes and possible cuts in subsidies were having an impact on consumer confidence.

The category most likely to be affected in Malaysia was retail, as people spent less on new clothes. A majority were also planning to cut back on out-of-home entertainment spending and to switch to cheaper grocery brands.

The automotive sector was relatively unaffected, though, as few people indicated they were going to use their car less frequently. 

Another recent survey in Thailand by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) said consumer confidence there had hit a 26-month low in January, as political instability, including an emergency decree in Bangkok, took its toll.

Data sourced from Marketing Interactive, The Nation; additional content by Warc staff