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“We’re still in recession”

Weaker job prospects and a dampened outlook for personal finances in 2013 has slumped consumer confidence in Hong Kong by four index points to 85 in the fourth quarter of 2012, pushing it below the global average of 91 points, according to Nielsen’s latest study.

“As the financial services centre in Asia, Hong Kong has not escaped from the global economic downturn,” said Oliver Rust (pictured), managing director of Nielsen Hong Kong.

On the macro-economic level, factors like the unresolved Eurozone crisis, U.S. fiscal cliff concerns, rising inflation and leadership changes in China are diminishing consumer confidence, whereby 55% of respondents believe they are still in the middle of recession compared to 48% a year ago.

On a more personal level, however, the economy, job security and increasing food prices are the concerns most dear to consumers’ hearts – measuring 24%, 15% and 13% respectively; while saving for rainy days remained the top priority.

Though the decreased expenses affected the entire economy as a whole, the biggest sufferers are new technology products – down by 9% compared to Q4 of 2011; new clothes and investments, both of which dropped by 5%; and vacations, which saw a 4% decrease.

The only increase was in the pay-off of debts, which jumped from 14% to 17% compared to 2011.

“Hong Kong consumers are proceeding with extreme caution in spending. There is the lingering concern about the continuously high property prices, the rising commodity prices, the government policy, and the subdued growth in mainland China in 2012″, Rust added.

The survey was conducted between 10 to 17 November 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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