Consumer confidence in Malaysia up in second quarter

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Kuala Lumpur (The Star/ANN) - An online survey by Nielsen shows consumer confidence in Malaysia rose four points to an index of 111 in the second quarter.

It also shows that the country advanced to fifth place from seventh among the 56 countries surveyed in terms of confidence level, after Indonesia (120), India (119), the Philippines (116) and Saudi Arabia (115).

The survey of consumer confidence and spending intentions had been conducted in May and polled about 28,000 online consumers in 56 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America.

"Several developments have prompted an upbeat attitude among Malaysians," said Nielsen Malaysia managing director Richard Hall in a statement.

"Inflation grew at a slower pace since February, the ringgit outperformed Asian currencies in the first four months of the year, corporate earnings showed a favorable outlook for 2012 and manufacturing output picked up pace in February, March and April."

Nielsen said despite the optimism shown in several indicators, the movement of the fast-moving consumer goods showed a slowdown year-on-year in the last three months.

It said although May sales grew 2.8 per cent month-on-month, with 67 categories reporting growth, sales were stagnant in May 2012 compared with May 2011.

"The trends actually indicate that optimism does not necessarily translate into spending, as Malaysians are among the highest savers in world.

"The survey shows that almost three out of five (59 per cent) online respondents actually saved their spare cash. Consumers are holding back spending and deferring purchasing plans amid uncertainties with their "wait-and-see" attitude," said Hall.

Nielsen noted that there was evidence of consumers holding back their expenses by controlling household budgets after paying off essential living expenses.

"There are 10 online respondents who actually claimed that they would still continue to cut down on out-of-home entertainment to manage their budget even in the event that economic conditions improved," it said.

The survey also showed that the state of the economy remains the biggest concern for consumers surveyed.

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