Coronavirus: Most Singaporeans think recession likely, will spend less, according to survey

Majority also say Govt's responses to support economy during Covid-19 outbreak better than other countries'

Four in five Singaporeans said they were likely to decrease spending on luxury items in general.
Four in five Singaporeans said they were likely to decrease spending on luxury items in general.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Most Singaporeans are worried about the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak but are confident in the Government's response to support the economy.

A new survey commissioned by strategic communications consultancy Portland found that 73 per cent of the 500 respondents said a recession is likely, while 63 per cent said a severe recession is likely to occur. On a personal level, 72 per cent of respondents said the outbreak is "likely" or "very likely" to cause them to decrease their day-to-day spending.

The same number said they would likely delay making major purchases such as buying a new car.

Four in five said they were likely to decrease spending on luxury items in general.

Despite the fears, nearly three-quarters said the Singapore Government's responses to support the economy during the outbreak are better than the measures adopted in other countries.

More than half of the respondents said they felt Singapore's responses are "among the best" in the world or "much better" than other countries'.

The survey was conducted by London-based market research firm Alligator Research between March 19 and 27.

It also found those who engage in panic buying may be in the minority. Just 32 per cent said they had stockpiled items at the time of the survey and 18 per cent said they planned to do so in the coming weeks.

About half of the respondents said they expected life to return to normal within six months to a year.

Most Singaporeans are also confident in their understanding of Covid-19 and feel prepared to deal with it. Ten per cent of respondents felt "very prepared" to deal with the situation and another 48 per cent said they felt "mostly prepared".

A large majority - 91 per cent - said they knew how to protect themselves and their family members from the virus, and 79 per cent said they were confident that they could recognise Covid-19 symptoms.

Asked what measures they would take to manage their health following the outbreak, 92 per cent said they would improve personal hygiene habits such as hand washing.

Forty-seven per cent also said they would exercise more and 45 per cent said they would improve their diet.

Official government websites were the most popular place to get information on Covid-19, with 62 per cent stating that they did so.

This was more than the 58 per cent who said they looked to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for such updates.


Mr Jonathan McClory, the Asia general manager at Portland, said this shows the high level of public trust that Singaporeans have in the Government.

"That trust also extends to faith in the Government to perform well in handling the crisis," he added.

"The Government's ubiquity across social media and messaging platforms, as well as regular media briefings, have also helped ensure critical information is getting to the public."

Mr McClory said there are "definitely lessons" that other governments around the world could learn from Singapore in areas such as how to ensure citizens and residents understand Covid-19 and feel prepared for the pandemic.

"Singapore has shown that clear, informative, and multi-platform government communication is key."

Portland advises governments in five continents and has offices in London, Doha, Washington and Nairobi. Its Singapore office was established in 2016 as its Asia-Pacific headquarters.

Portland also publishes the Soft Power 30 index ranking leading countries on their soft power, or their ability to use persuasion and attraction to influence others in international relations. Singapore ranked 21st out of 30 last year on the index.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2020, with the headline 'Most S'poreans think recession likely, will spend less: Survey'. Subscribe