Photo - Richard Hall, MD, Nielsen Malaysia
Malaysian consumer confidence increased by four points to 107 on the Nielsen Malaysia Retail Index in the first quarter of 2013, said the market research firm.
The index last hit 107 in the first quarter of 2012, when Malaysia maintained its ninth highest consumer confidence index score (ahead of Norway) among the countries measured, said Nielsen Malaysia's managing director Richard Hall.
"External economic sentiment showed signs of improvement in quarter one of 2013, the pick-up of the external demand, monetary policy and low inflation in the domestic market are several positive drivers for the upbeat attitude among Malaysians," said Hall.
"The expectation of economic stability and continued growth of the economy in the second half of 2013 has also fuelled the strong four points gain in confidence towards local job prospects and the state of personal finances," he said.
In addition, the expectation of better job prospects and personal finances over the next 12 months was indicated by 68 percent of online consumers surveyed in Malaysia, said Hall. The percentage of respondents who rated their job prospects as excellent or good went up by five percent quarter-on-quarter. Their confidence has helped Malaysia advance as the seventh most optimistic job prospects online consumer group among the 58 countries surveyed. The average figure was 62 percent across the Asia Pacific region while Indonesia (122), India (120), The Philippines (118) were the top three most confident countries.
Hall said the perceptions on the state of personal finances improved by two percentage points (10 percent described as excellent) to 64 percent from last quarter. As a result, Malaysia maintained its tenth highest ranking (along with Hong Kong) in terms of optimism towards personal finance among the countries measured.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, 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 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.
Good time to buy
Close to two-fifths (38 percent) of the respondents stated that the coming 12 months will be a good time to purchase items they want and need, the optimism rose by six percentage points as compared to the fourth quarter of 2012, he added. "The increase of confidence level is reflected in the movement of FMCG sales in the month of March with regards to domestic consumptions."
Hall said The Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) movement showed the gap of spending patterns between pre-Chinese New Year and before the closure of quarter one was relatively wide. (Month-on-month value growth: two percent in January, minus eight percent in February, six percent in March).
9.2 percent and 1.9 percent growth in the Beverage and Household Category have contributed to the positive growth of pre-Chinese New Year shopping in January with 34 categories registering positive growth. On the other hand, March value sales actually built up to reach a notable six percent growth month-on-month with 37 categories recording double digit growth, he added.
"Due to the seasonality factors, post-Chinese New Year is usually a slow month and it is reflected in the value growth in February. However, trends actually indicate that optimism towards spending intentions has translated into increased spending in the month of March," said Hall. "The trend suggests that the market is in an encouraging zone, and that the next quarter will be crucial in gauging the real spending of consumers and its sustainability."
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.