Hongkongers are more willing to open their wallets over the Lunar New Year with the economy remaining buoyant, an AC Nielsen survey has revealed. It found that 22 per cent of respondents would spend more than last year, while 67 per cent said they would spend roughly the same, compared with 20 per cent and 63 per cent last year. The average amount to be put into lai see packets was $23.70, slightly more than the $22.20 in the previous year. AC Nielsen interviewed 1,027 people aged 15 to 54 last month on how much they spent during Christmas, their budget for the Lunar New Year and their views about job security. Amy Lee, director of customised research at AC Neilsen, said: 'In general, we found Hong Kong people more willing to spend on non-essential goods. They also expressed a stronger intention to invest in stocks and retirement funds.' Seventy-six per cent of respondents said they were optimistic about the job market in the next 12 months, while 56 per cent said their finances would be in a healthy state in 2006. Fifty per cent said it was a good time to spend on things they wanted and needed. When asked what they planned to do with their spare cash, the three most popular options were savings, entertainment and holidays. Average intended spending on travel increased to $7,506, a near-50 per cent jump on the $4,998 of last year. It was also found that last month the average amount of spending on leisure and entertainment increased from $390 to $521, compared with the same month in 2004.