KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian consumer confidence remains stable at the start of the first quarter of 2016 with 79 percentage points (pp), according to the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions.
Nielsen said Malaysia maintained its ranking as 36th most confident country in the first quarter of 2016 (unchanged from last quarter). The average global consumer confidence is 98 pp. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.
In the latest online survey, confidence levels in South-East Asia continue to remain resilient with four out of six countries in the region scoring above the 100 pp mark.
The Philippines (119 pp), Indonesia (117 pp), Vietnam (109) and Thailand (105) are the bright spots in the region’s growing and emerging market as they retain their titles as the top 10 most confident countries globally while Singapore scored 88 pp.
“With no real changes in the economic outlook, Malaysians’ confidence remains low and we see that this trend will continue to be the case until the pressure on the ringgit eases. Only when the pressure of the ringgit improves, can consumers start to feel the burden of their day-to-day spending lessen,” Nielsen Malaysia country manager Richard Hall said in a statement.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions measures consumer confidence, perceptions of local job prospects, major concerns and spending intentions amongst more than 30,000 respondents with Internet access in 63 countries.
According to Nielsen, the economy and job security remained the top concerns of Malaysian consumers.
“While the nation’s fiscal status (52% compared with 50% in prior quarter) continues to top the list of major concerns among Malaysian consumers, nearly a quarter of the respondents have cited that job security is now their second top worry (22%).
Seven in 10 Malaysians feels that the local job prospects are not so good, even bad over the next 12 months (70% compared with 64% in previous quarter),” it said.
It added that recessionary sentiments among Malaysians continued to remain high.
For the first time since starting the global online survey on consumer confidence and spending intentions back in 2005, terrorism made it to the nation’s top 10 list of major concerns (7%).
Other key concerns that also made the list include increasing food prices (20%), political stability (19%) and work/life balance (14%).
The region’s consumers are the world’s most avid savers with all six countries securing the top 10 spots globally when it comes to saving.
Vietnam (78%) maintains its first ranking followed by Indonesia (75%) and Philippines (69%) in second and third, respectively. Both Malaysia (67%) and Singapore (67%) are ranked fourth while Thailand (66%) takes the sixth spot.
On average, only half of global consumers priorities saving any spare cash (51%).
About one third of Malaysians are also focused on building their financial nest by channelling extra cash towards investing in shares of stock/mutual funds (32%) and retirement fund (27%) while two in five respondents use any extra monies to clear debts, credit cards or loans (41%).