Optimism in ASEAN remains though inflation is fuelling concerns about a possible economic downturn in the region, said UOB recently when releasing its ASEAN Consumer Sentiment Study (ACSS) 2023.
According to the bank, more than 70% of respondents of the study said they expect their country to experience an economic downturn in the next year, putting a lid on recovery hopes as the downcast sentiment remains relatively unchanged from last year.
In its fourth year, UOB's ACSS study was conducted from 1 to 26 June 2023 and surveyed 3,400 respondents online from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
This year, UOB partnered with global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group on the study, the bank noted.
- Rising inflation is a key area of concern in ASEAN with 63% of respondents expressing worry about it, while 57% fret about increased household expenses.
- Singaporeans are the most concerned with these two — with 71% and 64% of respondents worrying about rising inflation and increased household expenses respectively.
- The top three financial concerns for the region are the ability to set aside money for saving (37%), ability to afford essential items (31%) and the ability to maintain current lifestyles (28%).
- Utility bills (42%) and household groceries (34%) are the top two items that consumers have spent more on, followed by food delivery/takeaway and child education at joint third (31%).
- For discretionary spending, most people cut back spending on jewellery (38%) and dining (34 per cent), followed by homeware and furniture (32%).
- That said, optimism in ASEAN remains as three in five within the region expect themselves to be financially better off by June next year, with Vietnam (76%) leading the pack followed by Indonesia (74%) and Thailand (68%).
- In Singapore, the top two most worrying financial situations are the ability to set aside money for saving (42%) and the ability to plan ahead for retirement (37%), with the ability to afford essential items and ability to maintain current lifestyles at joint third (31%).
- 43% of consumers surveyed indicated they had spent more on utility bills in the past year, with 34% reporting an increase in household groceries expenses and 32% shelling out more for their daily commutes.
- More than a quarter of Singaporeans are also budgeting more for their expenses, a growth of 6% from last year. Consequently, consumers are setting aside less for savings, with 23% declaring as such.
- Gen Z is the most conservative demographic with 48% planning to save more this year compared with the national average of 35%, while Gen Y priorities investments with 30% putting their money to work versus the national average of 24%.