Consumer confidence improves, sentiment still downbeat: Survey

Shoppers at NTUC FairPrice Xtra.
Shoppers at NTUC FairPrice Xtra.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Consumer confidence in Singapore has improved marginally this month, but overall sentiment is still tepid as economic uncertainties persist, a recent survey has found.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan Singapore Consumer Confidence Index score for this month was 125.2 points, up 0.2 point from last month and 4.3 points higher compared with a year earlier.

The index, released yesterday, came from surveys polling 1,000 respondents earlier this month.

Commenting on the findings, ANZ chief economist for South Asia, Asean and Pacific, Mr Glenn Maguire, said: "The narrow miss of a technical recession during the third quarter and a slight adjustment to monetary policy settings in October probably saw local households enter November with a slightly more optimistic disposition.''

Last month, gross domestic product flash estimates showed that Singapore's economy grew 0.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter, avoiding a technical recession. The Monetary Authority of Singapore also announced last month that it will reduce the pace of Singapore dollar appreciation.

But Singaporeans are still mindful of the choppy outlook, and only 31 per cent of respondents believe their families are better off financially than they were a year earlier.

Only 32 per cent of respondents believe their financial situation will improve next year.

Meanwhile, just 52 per cent of respondents believe the country's prospects will remain good over the next year, and 48 per cent remain upbeat about the domestic outlook over the next five years.

The concerns were not unfounded. The Ministry of Trade and Industry yesterday lowered Singapore's full-year growth forecast to "close to 2 per cent", down from the previous range of 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

"This muted confidence is manifest in the very low number of respondents who are willing to purchase major household items. Indeed, only 19 per cent of Singaporeans are ready to do so at the moment,'' Mr Maguire noted.

Against that backdrop, "it is highly unlikely that domestic demand, especially consumption, will emerge as an offset to a challenging external environment any time soon", he warned.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'Consumer confidence improves, sentiment still downbeat: Survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe