CONSUMER confidence levels are regaining some lost ground, according to a Nielsen survey. The Consumer Confidence Index for Singapore reached 96 points in the first quarter, edging two points up from a two-year low in the previous quarter. Levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism respectively.
Singapore is now ranked eighth among 14 Asia-Pacific countries in terms of consumer confidence, with the average index for the region in Q1 2012 being 103 points, the highest worldwide. Consumer confidence increased five points to 94 points on a global level.
Recession fears have ebbed a little, with 27 per cent of respondents viewing Singapore as in a recession, two percentage points down from Q4 2011. Among this group, 27 per cent think the economy will recover over the next year, up five points from the earlier quarter.
Singaporeans were also more positive on employment prospects in Q1, with one in two respondents rating job prospects over the next 12 months as "good" or "excellent", an 8 per cent increase over the previous quarter.
Nonetheless, the economy is still on the minds of most consumers over the next six months, with 32 per cent of respondents listing it as the biggest or second biggest concern. Job security followed at 30 per cent while work-life balance took third place at 23 per cent.
Household purse strings are also likely to remain relatively tight, with 62 per cent of respondents having changed their spending to save on household expenses compared to the same time last year. This was a four percentage point increase on Q4 last year. Within this group, respondents intend to save on household expenses even when economic conditions pick up further, adopting measures such as saving on utilities, spending less on new clothes or switching to cheaper grocery brands.
Said Joan Koh, managing director, Nielsen Singapore and Malaysia: "The continuing worries over global economic recovery, coupled with inflationary pressures closer to home are likely to impact confidence going forward. As a result, consumers are still likely to err on the side of caution when it comes to spending on non-essentials."