Consumer confidence up in Q1

By Kathleen A. Martin, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 29 2014 09:14 AM | Updated as of Mar 29 2014 05:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Consumer confidence improved in the first quarter, although it stayed in the negative territory, driven largely by respondents’ favorable outlook on the Philippine economy.

Results of the latest Consumer Expectations Survey by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that consumer confidence index for the first quarter of the year stood at -18.8 percent, better than the -21.3 percent in the previous quarter.

“Respondents attributed their favorable outlook to the availability of more jobs, increase in the number of employed family members, more investment prospects, higher income, stronger business activity, and good harvests,” Rosabel B. Guerrero, director for the BSP’s Department of Economic Statistics, said in a briefing.

The upbeat sentiment of Filipinos mirrored the same in Germany, Indonesia, South Korea, and Taiwan, but it was the reverse of what is seen in Australia, China, Japan, Thailand, and the US.

The confidence index also went up to 5.4 percent for the second quarter from 2.8 percent due to expectations of more job opportunities and good weather conditions in April to June.

The overall consumer confidence is measured with three indicators: economic conditions of the country, family financial situation and family income.

The consumer confidence index is the difference between the percentage of respondents who said they are optimistic about the economy and their income situations and those who said the opposite.

During the current quarter, the sentiment on the economy and on family finances improved but confidence in family income remained steady.

But Guerrero said confidence was more bullish on all three indicators for the coming quarter.

“Consumers cited the following reasons for their upbeat outlook: more financial support from family members as employment opportunities are expected to be better, continued implementation of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, and good governance,” Guerrero said.

The survey also showed the number of consumers that considered buying big-ticket items during the period was broadly steady at 24.1 percent.

The outlook slightly improved for real estate, considered as “good investments” by respondents, although it was steady for consumer durables and motor vehicles.

At the same time, the number of households with savings climbed to 28.9 percent in the first quarter from 26.2 percent in the previous quarter.

“The percentage of households with savings increased among the middle- and the low-income groups but declined for the high-income group,” Guerrero said.

“Respondents said they are setting aside some amount as savings for emergency, healthy and hospitalization, retirement, education, and business capital and investment,” she continued.

The latest survey was conducted from Jan. 21 to Feb. 3 and covered 5,870 households, of which 49.6 percent were from the National Capital Region.