Consumers dine out on renewed optimism

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 12:00am

With economic recovery in the air, Hongkongers are willing to spend again

Affluent consumers in Hong Kong are more willing to spend on entertainment and luxury items now than they were six months ago, according to a regional online survey of consumer confidence.

Two-thirds of the 506 Hong Kong respondents believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months, up from the 37 per cent who felt that way in the spring.

Internet users in India were the biggest optimists in the ACNielsen survey. Those in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore were also more confident about their economies' prospects than respondents in Hong Kong. The company interviewed 7,230 people last month for its biannual survey of consumer confidence in Asia Pacific.

The survey showed a trend towards higher spending on non-essential items.

People in Hong Kong said they were setting aside extra money this month for dining out and for buying clothes, shoes and accessories. They said they would be spending from 20 per cent to 60 per cent more on such non-essentials than six months ago.

'This is clearly a much brighter picture than six months ago,' said Frank Martell, of ACNielsen.

Asked what still gave them cause for concern, 37 per cent of the Hong Kong respondents said job security was the biggest issue. They were also worried about their health and about crime.

Andy Kwan Cheuk-chiu, professor of economics at Chinese University, said the survey's results were in line with other positive economic indicators.

Professor Kwan said people's attitudes towards job security would improve as unemployment fell.

He is optimistic that Hong Kong's gross domestic product will grow by 3.5 per cent this year, higher than the government's revised estimate of 3 per cent. And he sees growth of 5 per cent to 6 per cent next year.