Consumer confidence down - poll

by Iris Gonzales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 16 2012 10:18 AM | Updated as of Jun 17 2012 06:27 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino consumers were not that optimistic on the economy in the second quarter of the year compared to the first quarter because of rising cost of goods and services and unemployment, according to results of the latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Consumer Expectations Survey.

Results showed that consumer sentiment weakened in the second quarter as the overall confidence index (CI) declined to -19.5 percent from -14.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

CI is computed as the percentage of households that answered in the affirmative less the percentage of households that answered in the negative to queries on their views on a given indicator.

“Concerns over the increase in transport fares in March, the expected upward adjustments in power rates (which took effect in May) and the anticipated hike in tuition could have driven households’ lower optimism as these factors put additional strain on family finances, pushing household expenditures up and real income down,” the BSP said in its survey report.

Survey respondents comprising 5,830 households nationwide also said that they anticipate tougher competition for jobs as new college and high school graduates joined the labor force during the quarter.

For the next 12 months, consumer confidence remains positive but less optimistic, the BSP said.

The CI for the year ahead or the consumers’ view on the direction of the economy in the next 12 months declined slightly to 10 percent from 11.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

In terms of spending outlook, more households expected to spend more on basic goods and services in the third quarter of the year compared to the previous quarter’s survey results.

Survey respondents said they would spend more on education, clothing, footwear, transportation and communication.

“The spending outlook for food, house rent and water remained broadly steady while those for electricity, fuel, medical care, personal effects and hotel and restaurants increased moderately,” the BSP said in its report.

Respondents also expect to spend on big-ticket items despite the weaker current quarter sentiment. Consumers expect to spend on real estate as well as on motor vehicles in the second quarter and in the next 12 months.

However, more respondents expected unemployment to rise over the next 12 months as the index increased to 60.2 percent from 52.8 percent in the last quarter’s survey.

The survey was conducted from April 2 to 16 in all regions of the Philippines except the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.