Consumer sentiment improves in Q1: Nielsen

Consumer sentiment improves in Q1: Nielsen

Singaporeans are feeling more inclined to reach for their wallets as better job prospects and personal finances stoke confidence, according to a Nielsen global consumer confidence survey.

Consumer confidence here indexed at 96 in the first quarter this year - a one-point increase from the previous quarter and unchanged from the year-ago period.

Levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.

This places the Republic in eighth place among 14 Asia-Pacific countries in terms of consumer confidence, ahead of Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

The region has an average index score of 101, and is the most confident region worldwide. Consumers in Indonesia lead the pack both in Asia and globally with an index of 122 points.

"Consumers in Singapore are feeling slightly more upbeat about their job prospects, personal finances and the future recovery of the economy. This was reflected in their spending intentions," said Luca Griseri, head of financial services, Nielsen Singapore and Malaysia.

"We saw improvements in economic sentiment across the globe, and particularly in our region where Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan posted double-digit confidence increases."

The Nielsen survey, started in 2005, polled about 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries globally.

In the latest round of the survey conducted between Feb 18 and March 8, consumer confidence rose in 60 per cent of global markets measured by Nielsen, compared to a 33 per cent increase last quarter.

Singaporean consumers showed more confidence in the future of the economy and in their future job prospects. The proportion of Singaporeans who feel Singapore is in a recession went down 5 percentage points to 28 per cent in Q1.

Among those who believe the country is in recession, 31 per cent think the economy will recover over the next 12 months, compared to 29 per cent last quarter. Nearly half of them said future job prospects were excellent or good.

The Nielsen report also revealed that more consumers here find the next 12 months a good time to buy things they need or want. Men, in general, are more optimistic than women this quarter.

Singaporeans also have more spare cash to spend in Q1, up 3 percentage points from the previous quarter to 10 per cent.

While the majority of Singaporeans surveyed continue to channel spare cash into savings, a quarter of the respondents are willing to invest their spare cash in stocks or mutual funds.

"Investments in stocks and mutual funds have increased, despite the volatility in the global markets," said Mr Griseri. "The interest rate environment may have prompted Singaporeans to invest in higher-return alternatives."

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