HK consumers still optimistic

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 December, 2007, 12:00am

Global consumer confidence has dropped but Hong Kong consumers remain highly optimistic about their job prospects, personal finance and consumption.

The latest Nielsen global consumer confidence report shows the city's consumer confidence was 5th among 48 world markets.

Nielsen interviewed more than 26,000 global consumers online and found more than a quarter expected a global recession next year.

But more than half of the 500 Hongkongers polled said they did not believe one would occur.

Nielsen executive director of client solutions Angle Young Wai-suen said the US-based sub-prime credit issue might be worrying international investors but figures show the local market is very upbeat.

The consumer confidence index is calculated on interviewees' perceptions of their job prospects, personal finances and willingness to consume.

About 61 per cent of local interviewees said they considered now to be a good time to buy things they wanted or needed in the next year, a sentiment ranking third worldwide. When asked what they did with disposable income, 58 per cent said they invested in shares or mutual funds, the highest such percentage in Asia-Pacific markets.

As far as saving, the survey marks the first time since it began in 2005 that Hongkongers have dropped out of the top 10. Only 57 per cent of local consumers said they were going to save.

Meanwhile, a world leader in the employment services industry has found employers here remain optimistic about hiring.

Manpower Inc interviewed 811 local employers and nearly 52,000 worldwide in a bid to forecast global hiring intentions for the first quarter. Figures showed that 27 per cent of local employers expect to increase staffing over the next three months, and only 2 per cent expect to reduce their workforce.

Most Hong Kong employers (67 per cent) expect no change.

'The results reflect Hong Kong's strong labour market, and the lowest unemployment rate in nine years - 3.9 per cent,' said Lancy Chui, the firm's general manager of Hong Kong operations.

'With the government's promised 10 new infrastructure improvement projects over the coming five years, sectors such as construction and real estate should continue to report strong job prospects.'