AFTER a steady decline for two consecutive years, consumer confidence in Singapore recorded the largest improvement in South-east Asia in the first half of this year, according to the Mastercard Index of Consumer Confidence for H1 2017, released on Friday.
The survey, which had 9,153 respondents, found that a 15.4-point increase has pushed Singapore from “pessimistic” (30 points) to “neutral” (45.4 points). Three out of eight South-east Asian nations saw a positive movement, with Malaysia recording the second-largest increase with 11.1 points followed by Indonesia with four points.
The survey also found that Cambodia leads the region as the most optimistic market with 93.1 points, followed by Vietnam (90.8 points), Bangladesh (89.4 points), the Philippines (88.8 points) and China (88.2 points).
Mastercard said the index is calculated on a scale of zero to 100, with zero as the most pessimistic, 100 as the most optimistic, and between 40 and 60 as neutral.
In Singapore, the overall improvement in consumer confidence was driven mainly by a positive outlook for the stock market and heightened expectations in economic performance. Consumer sentiment improved across all components, with more than 10 points recorded for four key components – employment (+15.6), economy (+16.5), regular income (+11.9) and stock market (+24).
Deborah Heng, country manager, Mastercard Singapore, said: “This bodes well for the nation as consumers in Singapore are optimistic across all indicators, from employment, to economic outlook, regular income and quality of life.”
Across the Asia-Pacific, overall consumer confidence stayed buoyed in the optimistic category at 66.9 points, an improvement from 62.7 points. The 4.2-point increase was driven mainly by a bullish outlook on the stock market (+7.3) and employment (+5.1), Mastercard said.
Of the 18 markets including the Philippines and Vietnam surveyed, 11 recorded greater optimism (above 50 points), with South Korea (+46.7), Singapore (+15.4) and Malaysia (+11.1) – the top three markets – recording the most significant improvement in consumer confidence of more than 10 points. Conversely, India (-9.3) and Myanmar (-6.6) recorded the greatest declines in the Asia-Pacific.
In the United Kingdom, consumer confidence was found to have weakened this year. According to a Nielsen survey published on Thursday, more than half of households in the country said they are making cost-cutting efforts, and this is the highest proportion in two years.
The report added that 30 per cent of households switched to cheaper grocery brands to save money.