Philippine consumers most optimistic in region

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Filipinos were the most optimistic consumers in Southeast Asia and the second most optimistic in the world, defying a broad global decline in confidence during the fourth quarter of 2012, according to an international polling firm.

Market research specialist Nielsen said Tuesday that Philippine consumer confidence stood at an index of 119 in the final quarter of last year, representing a one-point increase from the previous quarter.

More importantly, across the 58 countries Nielsen measured for the period, confidence declined in 33 countries, remained flat in six countries and increased in 19 countries from the prior quarter.

"While consumers around the world struggled with increasing economic concerns, consumers in the Philippines continue to have a positive outlook," Nielsen Philippines managing director Stuart Jamieson said. "This optimism can be attributed to the strong performance of the economy in 2012, which was driven by the real estate, construction, manufacturing, services, and trade sectors."

According to the survey results, confidence fell in eight of 14 Asia-Pacific markets during the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the previous quarter, with four-point declines in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Nonetheless, the region reported the highest consumer confidence scores overall.

India topped the global list with an index of 121, an increase of two points from the last quarter, followed by the Philippines with 119 and Indonesia, which declined two points at 117.

China increased two index points to a score of 108, while Thailand (115) and Malaysia (103) also scored above the baseline of 100.

The poll-dubbed the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions-was established in 2005 and measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries.

Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicated degrees of optimism and pessimism.

In the latest round of the survey, conducted between Nov. 10 and Nov. 27, 2012, consumer confidence rose in 33 per cent of global markets measured by Nielsen, compared to 52 per cent in the previous quarter.

Filipino respondents' optimism for local job prospects was also among the world's highest, up four points from the third quarter of 2012 to 76 per cent of respondents who claimed that employment opportunities would be "good" or "excellent" over the next 12 months.

Confidence in personal finances stood at 77 per cent, down one point from the third quarter of 2012.

Fifty-one per cent of Philippine respondents said it was a good time to buy things they wanted and needed over the next 12 months. This was an increase of five points from the previous quarter's result and the highest confidence level registered for 2012.

Saving spare cash remained a priority among 65 per cent of Philippine respondents, but declined two percentage points from the third quarter's level. Twenty-one per cent of the respondents said they invested in shares of stock or mutual funds, an increase of two points.

Purchases of new technology products increased by one point to 35 per cent, while purchases of new clothes increased by two points to 34 per cent. Paying off credit cards and debt declined one point to 27 per cent. Spending intentions for holidays or vacations increased by one point to 28 per cent, while out-of-home entertainment increased 5 points to 18 per cent.

Half of Philippine respondents described their economic state as being in a "recession" during the fourth quarter, representing an improvement from 56 per cent the previous quarter and 59 per cent in the same period in 2011.

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