Malaysians slightly more optimistic

Consumer confidence in Malaysia rose four points to an index of 107 in the first quarter of 2013, according to Nielsen.

Malaysia maintained its ninth highest consumer confidence index score (ahead of Norway) among the countries measured. Indonesia (122), India (120), The Philippines (118) and are the top three most confident countries.

The percentage of respondents who rated their job prospects over the next 12 months as excellent or good went up by 5% quarter-on-quarter.

Close to two-fifths (38%) of the respondents stated that the coming 12 months will be a good time to purchase items they want and need. The optimism rose by six percentage points as compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.

The increase of confidence level is reflected in the movement of FMCG sales (excluding cigarettes, beer and shandy) in the month of March with regards to domestic consumptions.

The FMCG movement tracked by Nielsen showed the gap of spending patterns between pre-Chinese New Year and before the closure of quarter one was relatively wide. (Month-on-month value growth: 2.0% in January, -8.0% in February, 6% in March).

"Due to the seasonality factors, post-Chinese New Year is usually a slow month and it is reflected in the value growth in February. However, trends actually indicate that optimism towards spending intentions has translated into increased spending in the month of March," said Hall.

"The trend suggests that the market is in an encouraging zone, and that the next quarter will be crucial in gauging the real spending of consumers and its sustainability."