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Hong Kong economy

Self doubt about ability to own homes puts Hong Kong consumer confidence behind the mainland, Taiwan and Macau

Study finds high property prices continue to plague consumers in the city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 6:13pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 7:24pm

Hong Kong has the lowest overall consumer confidence among mainland China, Taiwan and Macau, surveys conducted by universities across the regions have found.

The city’s score was dragged down by a sharp decline in faith in the property market despite the government’s cooling measures.

By contrast, consumer confidence on the mainland rose to the highest level since 2009 when the survey was first conducted, gaining 1.2 points from the third quarter of last year to 105.1 in the fourth quarter of last year.

A score of above 100 indicated confidence, and that below 100 reflects the lack of it. The maximum possible score is 200.

The mainland was followed by Macau, which saw a slight increase of 0.16 points to 88.12. Taiwan came third with 87.5 points, gaining 3.9 points. Hong Kong was the only place that saw a decline – losing 3.1 points to 86.8.

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“Hong Kong people have long had little confidence in property purchases. Property prices in Hong Kong have been going up for some 10 months already. Reports have suggested that the average property prices in the city are the highest in the world,” City University of Hong Kong’s Geoffrey Tso Kwok-fai said in Beijing as the findings were announced.

“The drop in the overall index is mostly a result of the sharp down in the subindex tracking people’s confidence in their capability in property purchase.”

The Hong Kong subindex on economic development was the only among six subindexes to have increased from the third quarter last year, by 2.1 points to 106.8.

The property purchasing capability subindex lost 7 points to sit rock bottom at 36.8 points, the lowest since the survey started in 2009.

The employment subindex dropped by 1 point to 108.4; the prices of goods subindex was down 2.1 points at 67.8 even though the city’s inflation was just a moderate 1.6 per cent in November year on year; the living situation subindex declined by 5.1 points to 110.6; and the investment and stock subindex lost 5.2 points to 90.5.

City University polled 1,000 Hongkongers for the survey, while other universities conducted their own surveys using similar methodology.

Addressing the finance panel of Hong Kong’s legislature, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po on Monday said the overall property prices in November last year had exceeded the peak in 1997 by 101 per cent, calling it a “worrying trend”.

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That was despite the fact that property prices had slowed to a growth of 0.5 per cent in the third quarter, down from a 1.5 per cent rise in the first half of the year, with only 4,400 transactions.

Ren Tao, associate dean of the Capital University of Economics and Business’s school of statistics, said consumer confidence in the mainland has risen because the economy has been improving stably. The authorities’ attempts to curb property prices have worked and hence overall consumer confidence has improved, he added.

Professor Shia Ben-chang from the Taipei Medical University’s college of management said Taiwanese’s confidence in cost of goods was the lowest among the eight subindexes, at just 65.1 points.

“People from Beijing and Shanghai would find that things in Taipei are really cheap,” he said. “But among people (in the polled regions), Taiwanese are the most unsatisfied with the price of goods. That’s a problem of the wages. The people’s current wages were pretty much the same 10 years ago.”