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Southeast Asian consumer confidence hits new record high
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Southeast Asian consumer confidence hits new record high

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Southeast Asian consumer confidence continued its steady rise in the first quarter of 2015, reaching the highest level recorded to date and far out-stripping other global markets, according to the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions.

Southeast Asia (comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) posted a score of 114 points in Nielsen’s Q1 2015 Consumer Confidence Index, up two points compared to the previous quarter and 17 points above the global consumer confidence index score of 97 points. Underlying the results were consumers’ strengthening confidence in the state of their personal finances and a growing willingness to spend. The Southeast Asia score was the highest recorded by Nielsen since it began reporting a Southeast Asia consumer confidence index in 2008.

Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam rank among the most optimistic consumers in the world. In Singapore, consumer confidence was steady at 100 points. In Malaysia, consumer confidence rebounded by five points to 94 in Q1 2015, following a dramatic 10-point decline between Q3 and Q4 2014 that delivered the weakest result for the country since 2009. While economic growth there has accelerated, spurred by exports and services, uncertainty surrounding the introduction of a goods and services tax saw close to one third of consumers (31%) flag the economy as their greatest concern.

POSITIVE ATTITUDES ON JOBS GROWTH AND PERSONAL WEALTH

More than two thirds of Southeast Asian consumers (68%) hold a positive view of local job prospects over the coming 12 months, with the outlook strongest in Indonesia (74%) and the Philippines (73%), compared to 50% globally.

More than seven in 10 Southeast Asians feel that they are in a good position when it comes to the state of the personal finances in the year ahead, led by Indonesia (84%) and the Philippines (77%), compared to 56% globally.

Malaysia was the only country in Southeast Asia that returned a score beneath the global averages for job prospects and personal financial outlook over the next 12 months, however, Malaysian consumers were more positive in Q1 2015 than in Q4 2014.

SAVING FOR A RAINY DAY, WHILE OTHERS SET TO SPEND

Consumers in Southeast Asia are diligent savers, with an overwhelming majority (71%) intending to put their spare cash into savings after they have covered their essential living expenses, an increase of two points quarter-on-quarter and up nine points compared to the same time a year ago. Consumers in Vietnam are the most intent globally on building their savings fund – 78% put their spare cash into savings.

Outside of building their savings accounts, the most common item consumers purchase with their spare cash is holidays – close to two fifths of Southeast Asian consumers (39%) spend their spare cash on holidays, particularly Singaporeans (48%) and Thais (45%).

This article is based on insights contained in the Q1 2015 Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Report.