SINGAPORE: According to the Consumer Confidence Index of global marketing research firm Nielsen, consumers are more optimistic about personal finances and job prospects — and are out shopping and enjoying themselves.
Globally, Singapore ranks 15th on consumer confidence, behind Malaysia in ninth place and Indonesia in second spot. India is in the top spot.
The mood to spend appeared to be reflected in the Nielsen survey, which found that Singaporeans feel upbeat about their finances.
Consumers whom Channel NewsAsia spoke to did not seem to be hit hard by inflation and did not intend to cut back on spending.
Consumer confidence rebounded to its highest level in over 12 months.
For next 12 months, more than half of those polled see their personal finances as good, even excellent.
The Consumer Confidence Index for Singapore rose 4 points to 98, up from 94 in Q2.
There is also an upswing in the number who are are planning to invest in stocks and shares, or say it is a good time to buy what they want or need.
"Property prices continue to rise, be it residential or non—residential. Retail sales have also gone up in the last quarter," explained Ms Joan Koh, the managing director of Nielsen in Singapore and Malaysia.
"And perhaps there have been less of negative news coming from Europe which could actually make consumers (feel) more settled."
The poll was conducted in August and September.
According to Ms Annie Koh, dean of executive education at Singapore Management University, a seasonal bias may be possible, as people gear up for the year—end splurge, especially for holidays.
Inflation remains high and is likely to persist into next year.
But economists say the tight labour market is helping to keep salaries up and prices affordable for now.
"With such a low unemployment rate, companies are trying to commensurately keep their staff. So if prices go up, salaries — if they go up commensurately, people feel they can still afford," said Ms Koh.
"My bigger concerns might be if inflation costs keep going up, then wage costs catch up with it. So people may have to make a decision on which part of their money earned will go to where. Their sentiments to spend would be to move to cheaper options. That’s how people manage inflation domestically."
Spending intentions may have improved in the last three months, but experts say it is more interesting to see is whether consumer confidence will sustain in the next few quarters — or if this is just a one—off, year—end spike.
Given Singapore’s small domestic market, with local consumption making up 45 per cent of the gross domestic product, economists say much will still depend on how the global economy fares.
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