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Malaysia consumer confidence declines

In Nielsen’s latest Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, Malaysia maintains its position in the top 10 most consumer confident countries despite seeing a decline of six points in the index to 105 in the third quarter of 2012 from three months ago.

Malaysia reported the ninth highest consumer confidence index score (ahead of Switzerland) among the 58 countries surveyed. Indonesia and India are both at the top (119), followed by The Philippines (118). Malaysia ranked fifth in second quarter 2012.

Despite having inflation grow at its slowest pace in the month of September as well as having the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grow by 5.4% in second quarter, the third quarter Consumer Confidence Index in Malaysia decreased by six points.

Richard Hall, managing director for Nielsen Malaysia, said this was due to a drop in optimism based on job prospects as well as personal financial status.

“Although domestic conditions remain stable, consumers may have increasing concerns that external demand and investments may not be as resilient as expected and the economic situation in Europe, North America and the slowing down of demand in China may be contributing to the decline in optimism,” added Hall.

The percentage of online respondents in Malaysia who rated their job prospects as excellent and good over the next 12 months is at 65% despite a drop of 5% quarter-on-quarter; three out of 10 (31%) described it as “not so good” or “bad”. Malaysia has the sixth highest ranking on job prospects among the 58 countries surveyed.

Overall, confidence level (excellent and good) towards personal finances in the coming 12 months experienced a 7% quarterly decline. They described their state of personal finances as excellent as compared to 10% a quarter ago. As a result, Malaysia was out of the top 10 list this quarter among all countries surveyed.

Consumers are also split between saying the country is in a recession or not. Fifty-one per cent of online consumers surveyed felt the nation is in an economic recession while 49% said it isn’t.

Slightly more than a quarter (27%) of the respondents projected that the recession would last for another 12 months. In addition, four out of five (80%) consumers have changed their spending patterns to save on household expenses.

The total fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) tracked by Nielsen also showed a year-on-year decline of 3.1% and 2.4% in sales value during the fasting period and the festive month, respectively (July and August 2012). Only 36 categories experienced positive growth in July and August.

“The trends suggest that consumers are spending cautiously and holding back spending amid global economic uncertainties. On the other hand, Nielsen’s survey reveals that they have increased both their contribution to savings and retirement funds (increased by 3% and 5% respectively),” said Hall.

Nearly one-fifth (18%) of online consumers indicated that the state of economy is still their biggest concern. Consumers remained concerned about job security (14%) and political stability (11%) while work/life balance and debt followed closely.

Concerns over increasing food prices maintained its sixth position as inflation grew at its slowest pace in the country in the months of July-September in 2012.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted August 10 – September 7, 2012 and polled more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries throughout Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America.

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