Earthquake effect bites as consumer confidence wanes in Asia/Pacific

July 31, 2011 | 10:00
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Consumers across Asia/Pacific are concerned at the slow pace of the global economic recovery with a dip in optimism recorded over the last six months, according to the latest MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence, released recently.
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As the global economy continues its slow recovery, 11 out of the 14 Asia/Pacific markets polled for the index recorded positive consumer sentiment with stable optimism recorded in emerging and established markets including China (78.3), Singapore (77.9), Vietnam (77.1), India (75.2), Hong Kong (69.9), Taiwan (67.6), Malaysia (64.9) and Australia (63.1).

However, 10 out of the 14 Asia/Pacific markets experienced an overall decline in consumer confidence when compared to the previous six months, with three markets - Thailand (46.1), New Zealand (42.2) and Japan (15.9) - showing widespread pessimism across the five key indicators.Overall Asia/ Pacific recorded a drop in consumer confidence from 68.0 to 61.5.

Now in its 19th year, the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence is the region’s most comprehensive and longest running consumer confidence survey. The Index is based on a survey which measures consumer confidence on prevailing expectations in the market for the next six months based on five economic indicators: Economy, Employment, Stock Market, Regular Income and Quality of Life. The index score is calculated with zero as the most pessimistic, 100 as most optimistic and 50 as neutral.

The latest survey was conducted from March 15 to April 27, 2011 and involved 10,374 consumers from 14 markets. Data collection was via internet surveys, personal, telephone and Computer Aided Telephone interviews, with the questionnaire translated to the local language wherever appropriate and necessary.

Overall confidence in the Economy in the Asia/Pacific region fell from 70.6 to 59.1, with Employment down from 67.5 to 59.9. Confidence also fell among consumers on the key indicator of Quality of Life (from 64.7 to 57.0) and the Stock Market (from 65.8 to 58.1), but increased slightly on Regular Income (from 71.6 to 73.1).

Japan and New Zealand, both still recovering from devastating earthquakes this year, experienced declines in consumer confidence across most key indicators, with New Zealand’s overall confidence falling from a positive 53.3 in the previous six months to a pessimistic 42.2, with a strong decline in confidence in the Economy (from 53.1 to 35.1). Japan’s overall consumer confidence was at its lowest since 2002, with confidence in the Economy falling from 20.6 six months ago to 12.3 and confidence in Employment down from 21.8 to 13.3.

Steep falls in consumer confidence were found in the Philippines, where optimism fell from 80.1 to 53.6 over the last six months, and across all key indicators, most dramatically in Employment (80.0 to 45.3), Qualify of Life (80.5 to 46.7) and the Economy (83.6 to 54.0).

“While consumer attitudes remain overwhelmingly positive across this Index there is clearly a perception that the recovery from the financial crisis is not going as smoothly as people would like,” said Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor for MasterCard Worldwide.

“Consumers are fantastic barometers of economic performance. As parts of the world have endured six very difficult months dealing with natural disasters, political instability and with ongoing financial uncertainty across the Eurozone, it is no surprise to see consumer sentiment declining across some of these markets.” 

By Song Ngoc

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