Consumers on top of the world

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 October, 2009, 12:00am

In another sign that the city is banishing the recession blues, consumer confidence in Hong Kong rose the most in the world in the third quarter, according to a global survey.

Optimism about job prospects, household income and spending rebounded strongly, according to the regular survey by The Nielsen Company, a global information and media firm.

Nielsen's index showed consumer confidence in the city jumped 14 points to 93 in the third quarter, from 79 in the second quarter.

South Korea came a close second with a 13-point rise, and Brazil was third with a 12-point jump.

Significantly, the survey found that more than two-thirds, or 68 per cent, of the respondents in Hong Kong said they no longer thought the city was in a recession.

This was up from 40 per cent in the second quarter and 26 per cent in the first quarter.

'After several quarters of holding back, we are starting to see consumers open their wallets again,' Oliver Rust, managing director of Nielsen in Hong Kong, said.

'We're seeing a recovery in many sectors, from big-ticket retailing to property and finance. However, this has yet to translate into fast-moving consumer packaged goods, as sales have remained relatively stable throughout the year.

'With the Hang Seng Index rebounding to its pre-financial-crisis levels in October and sales of properties seeing a significant increase, consumers are increasing their spending on discretionary items such as new clothes, out-of-home entertainment, technology and holidays, which they cut back a year ago.'

Hong Kong's healthy recovery generally mirrored growing optimism on the mainland, up 6 points, and the region, although Japan suffered a 2-point decline.

The latest survey was conducted between September 28 and October 16. More than 30,500 consumers in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, North America and the Middle East were polled, including 500 in Hong Kong.

Data is based on consumers' confidence in the job market, their personal finances and readiness to spend. The index's base year is 2007, when the global average was set at 100. There is a maximum margin of error of 0.6 per cent.