Chinese shoppers ready to go out and spend more

Survey finds consumer confidence remains high with optimism about jobs and personal finances

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 4:45am

Optimism about job prospects and personal financial status helped keep confidence high among mainland consumers, who showed a greater willingness to spend in the first quarter, a survey has found.

The Chinese consumer confidence index stayed at 108, unchanged from the previous quarter and 15 points higher than the global average, the poll by market research firm Nielsen showed.

The index improved to 106 in last year's third quarter after dropping to 105 in the second quarter from 110 in the previous quarter because of a slowdown in the mainland's economic growth and a decline in exports.

A score above 100 indicates positive consumer confidence.

"Compared with the previous quarter, Chinese consumers' attitudes towards their job prospects, personal finances and spending intentions remained stable and steady," said Yan Xuan, the president of Nielsen Greater China.

Of 3,500 people surveyed in the cities and rural areas, 58 per cent of those in first-tier cities indicated optimism about their job prospects, up from 52 per cent in the preceding quarter. Those optimistic about their personal financial status rose to 74 per cent from 62 per cent.

Consumers' spending intentions improved, with 39 per cent of respondents saying they would increase spending, the highest level since the third quarter of 2010, the survey found.

In first-tier cities, 45 per cent of respondents said they would increase household expenditure on food and beverage products in the three months to June, while nearly 15 per cent said they planned to increase spending on non-food items.

More than half of the respondents from first-tier cities said they planned to buy digital products and new home appliances in the next 12 months.

Mainland retail sales grew last month by 12.8 per cent year on year, slightly faster than the 12.6 per cent pace in March, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed last week.

China Merchants Securities said last month's growth in retail sales was driven by strong increases in gold and jewellery sales after a significant drop in gold prices.

Retail sales growth in other categories, such as clothing, remained slow, it said.