INTERACTIVE: From eating out to staycations, ‘revenge spending’ is on the rise


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 03 Oct 2023

PETALING JAYA: Eating out and staycations were the main forms of “revenge spending” post Covid-19 lockdowns, as Malaysians forked out more money on restaurants and accommodation services last year compared with before the pandemic.

According to the Statistics Department’s Income, Expenditure, Poverty and Inequality 2022 report, Malaysian household spending on restaurant and accommodation services rose by 2.4%, making up 16.1% of the average household expenditure in 2022, compared with 13.7% in 2019.

On average, a Malaysian household spent RM732 per month at restaurants, cafes and the like as well as RM58 at canteens, cafeterias and refectories.

In relation to what people ate at restaurants (food away from home), the majority or 91.2% households spent it on noodle and pasta-based foods, followed by tea (85.5%), nasi lemak (83.1%) and duck and chicken rice (80.5%).

Penang tops

Penang saw the biggest growth in household expenditure for eating out and domestic holidays.

Each household from the state spent an average of RM1,090 per month on restaurants and accommodation in 2022, a 60.3% hike from RM680 in 2019.

Terengganu was second, with a 50.9% increase from RM558 in 2019 to RM842 in 2022 and Selangor was third, growing 44.8% from RM907 in 2019 to RM1,313 in 2022.

Higher health spending

Other than meals out and domestic holidays, Malaysians also spent more on medical expenses and keeping Covid-19 at bay.

Spending on health grew by 0.8 percentage points in 2022, from 2% in 2019 to 2.8% in 2019.

An average of RM59 per month was spent on medicines and RM36 on medical products and services including face masks, private clinic visits, medical expenses at government hospitals and clinics as well as sanitisers.

Kuala Lumpur recorded the biggest increase in household spending on health which went up by 88.3% to RM177 per month last year compared with RM94 in 2019.

Sabah was second with an 80% increase to RM72 a month, and Sarawak was third with a 75.9% rise to RM102.

Financial priority

Malaysians are placing more emphasis on financial security following the pandemic.

An average household distributed 4% of its budget for insurance and financial services, slightly up from 3.5% in 2019.

More for the home

Spending for furnishing household equipment & routine household maintenance increased by 0.3 points to 4.7% compared with 4.4% in 2019.

Top purchases include furniture, furnishings and loose carpets (RM76) and non-durable household goods (RM48).

Top items include wall clock, carpet, towel/face towel and prayer mats.

What we spent less on

Malaysian households spent less on transport (-2.1 points), food and beverages (-0.6 points), clothing & shoes (-0.6 points), alcoholic beverages and tobacco (-0.4 points), information communication (-0.1 points) and education services (-0.1 points).

Overall, the average monthly household consumption expenditure increased at a faster rate of 3.7%, as compared to the average growth of household income (2.4%) for the period of 2019 to 2022.

The average monthly household consumption expenditure rose from RM4,609 in 2019 to RM5,150 in 2022.

Meanwhile, the median monthly household consumption expenditure increased from RM3,683 in 2019 to RM4,282 in 2022.

What Malaysians spent the most on

There was no change when it came to the thing that made up the biggest part of household monthly expenditures – housing and utilities.

Expenses related to housing and utilities made up 23.2% of household expenditure last year, similar to 2019.

Rent topped the list at RM910 monthly, followed by RM140 for electricity.

Kuala Lumpur households spent the most on housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, allocating 30.6% (RM2,396) of their average monthly expenditure followed by Sabah (27.2%) and Penang (24.8%).

Meanwhile, the second biggest household expenditure, which was food and non-alcoholic beverages, recorded a slight drop of 0.6 points, from 16.9% in 2019 to 16.3% in 2022.

Kelantan households spent 24% of their monthly expenditure on food and non-alcoholic beverages, the most among all states, followed by Kedah (23%) and Sarawak (22%).

Most of the money went to buying fish and other seafood with an average spend of RM198 per month, followed by meat (RM123).

Among the popular fish choice were island mackerel, sardine, torpedo scad and barramundi.

The following shows the average amount of monthly spending in each state:

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