MANILA — The consumer sentiment in the Philippines was "less pessimistic" in the first quarter of 2023 as the overall confidence index (CI) improved, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said on Friday.
The CI improved to -10.4 percent in Q1 from -14.6 percent in Q4 of 2022, data from the central bank showed.
"The less negative CI indicates that the number of households with optimistic views increased, but it was still lower than those with pessimistic views," the BSP said.
Improved outlook was attributed to the optimism on more available jobs and permanent employment, higher income from salaries, remittances and other sources, as well as the positive developments in the country's COVID-19 state and the post-pandemic recovery as businesses return, it added.
For the second quarter, the CI declined but remained positive at 7.5 percent from 9.5 percent the previous quarter, the BSP said.
Consumer sentiment for the next 12 months remained optimistic with a slight increase in CI to 22.7 percent in Q1 2023 from 21.7 percent in Q4 2022, data showed.
The less pessimistic outlook was also evident in buying big-ticket items since consumers are less hesitant with their purchase in Q1. The CI in buying big-ticket items in Q1 was less pessimistic with CI of -72.8 percent from -74.8 percent the previous quarter, the BSP said.
Based on the survey, the percentage of households with loans decreased while those with savings rose for the quarter.
Some 22.8 percent of households availed of loans in the last 12 months, lower than the 24 percent in the previous quarter results, the BSP said. On the other hand, the percentage of households with savings rose to 32.9 percent from 30.5 percent, it added.
However, consumers still expect higher interest and inflation rates and a weaker peso for Q1 and in the near term, the BSP said. But they also see lower unemployment rate.
Consumers also anticipate interest rate hikes for Q1 and Q2 and the next 12 months, the BSP said. Consumers expect inflation rate to average 6.2 percent for the next 12 months.