Thursday, December 15, 2011

Singapore's consumer confidence hits 2-year low in Nielsen survey

Consumer confidence in Singapore has fallen for the second consecutive quarter to a two-year low, amid growing worries of an economic recession.

The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index for Singapore fell nine points to 94 in the three months to September compared to the quarter before.

A number above 100 indicates positive consumer sentiment, while a figure below 100 indicates pessimism.

“Singaporean consumers turned into a more pessimistic group as the prospect of a prolonged global macroeconomic malaise became more pronounced. The continuing inflationary pressures and higher volatility in asset prices also contributed to a higher level of uncertainty among consumers, who are increasingly concerned about how to protect their wealth,” said Ms Grace Liu, head of consumer research at Nielsen Singapore.

The drop means Singapore is now only the 11th most confident country in the Asia-Pacific region, falling behind leaders India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The number of people here who think that the country is already in an economic recession doubled to 24 percent in the past three months, from the previous quarter.

Personal Finance Hopes Hit

The survey was part of the Nielsen Global Online Survey, which polled more than 28,000 consumers in 56 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America.

Perceptions here over job prospects and personal finances also took a beating.

“Consumers turned into a more pessimistic group over the third quarter, driven by uncertainty about the future course of the global economy, concerns over job security and other economic risks,” Liu said.

The top three concerns are the economy, job security and the increasing food prices. Consumers are also looking to preserve and grow their wealth, and are more restrained on spending.

Two-thirds of people here have indicated that they plan to put spare cash into savings, and 31 percent of consumers plan to invest in stocks or mutual funds, a considerably higher percentage compared to the global average of 18 percent.

This is also not a good time to buy things that they want or need, according to 65 percent of respondents here. This is a stark increase from the same period last year, where only 48 percent of consumers felt this way.

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