Consumer confidence in the economy increased in seven of 14 Asia-Pacific markets measured in Q1 from Q4 2012 and posted eight of the 10 highest index scores of 58 countries, according to findings from the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions. Confidence in Indonesia increased five index points to 122, jumping ahead of India’s index score of 120, which was one point lower than in Q4. Confidence in the Philippines and Thailand remained high in Q1 at 118 and 115, respectively. China’s index of 108 held steady from Q4 and confidence in Hong Kong increased 23 points to 108. Malaysia’s index of 107 increased four points in first quarter.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.
Sixty-two percent of Asia-Pacific respondents were optimistic about jobs in the year ahead, up four percentage points from the end of last year—outpacing Latin America (46%), North America (42%), Middle East/Africa (33%), and Europe (23%). Likewise, positive perceptions on the state of personal finances remained strong, increasing three percentage points to 62 percent. Saving spare cash remained a priority among 62 percent of respondents, an increase of four percentage points from Q4 last year, and spending intentions on home improvements rose five points to 23 percent.
“The rise in Hong Kong’s consumer confidence reflected government measures to increase basic and additional child allowances, provide electricity subsidies, reduce salary taxes, as well as other concessionary measures,” said Eva Leung, Managing Director of Nielsen Hong Kong. “Additionally, an increase in mainland visitors continued to be a driving force of consumer confidence, with sustainable year-on-year growth of 15 percent. Retail sales regained double-digit growth momentum of 16 percent in Q1 2013, largely fueled by the momentum of durables and luxury goods. Fast-moving consumer goods also delivered double-digit growth of 14 percent. While stronger optimism returned to the economy with a positive growth momentum, we still need to stay cautious with possible political and economic volatility.”
"With the surprising slowdown in China's GDP growth in the first quarter, there is additional concern about whether domestic demand from China's consumers along with investment spending can take over adequately from exports to sustain China's economic trajectory,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen. “In general, however, while Asian economies, including China and India, will experience slower growth than in the past, they will still expand much faster than the rest of the world due to a rising pool of middle-class consumers and ongoing urbanization.”
“In the near-term, the effects of government austerity in China will have to be watched closely, while in India, inflation will continue to be a problem along with political uncertainty associated with national elections next year,” continued Dr. Bala.
Other findings include:
For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q1 2013 Global Consumer Confidence Report.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Feb. 18-March 8, 2013 and polled more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10 million online population for survey inclusion. The China Consumer Confidence Index is compiled from a separate mixed methodology survey among 3,500 respondents in China. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.