Economy biggest concern among Vietnamese consumers: survey

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Economy was the biggest concern among consumers in Vietnam, where consumer confidence remained "fairly stagnant" in Q4 of 2012 compared to the previous quarter, according to Nielsen, a global market researcher.

The second and third biggest concerns for Vietnamese consumers were increasing utility bills like electricity and gas, and job security, the company said in a recent press release on its findings, known as the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions.

Nielsen conducted surveys among more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries between November 10 and November 27 last year.

It said Vietnam is among 19 countries that saw rises in their consumer confidence for Q4 2012, but with a one-point increase, the country stood at 88 and remained 11 points lower than a year ago. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.

According to the press release, 79 percent of Vietnamese respondents stated they were in a recession, compared to 76 percent in Q3, adding that it was up 18 percent from the beginning of the year.

In the meantime, around 37 percent of the respondents described their job prospects in Q4 as good/excellent, a decline from 40 percent in the previous year and 58 percent from a year ago.

Forty-four percent of Vietnamese consumers are confident that their personal finance will be good/excellent in the coming year, slightly increasing two points versus Q3, but declining ten points versus a year ago, according to Nielsen's findings.

The company also found that saving spare cash is still the top choice among Vietnamese consumers.

Ninety-one percent of respondents said they have changed their spending to save on household expenses, while 71 percent chose to cut down on new clothes. The rate was 68 percent for out-of-home entertainment, gas and electricity, and 57 percent for upgrading technology.

Globally, consumer confidence stood at 91 in Q4 2012, a one-point decline from the prior quarter, but an increase of two points from the same period of the year before, according to Nielsen.

"Consumers around the world grappled with increasing economic concerns as the Euro zone crisis spread from troubled to core countries, the United States fiscal cliff threat loomed large, and China's rising inflation sparked monetary policy action," Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen, was quoted as saying in the press release.

"Consumers are proceeding with caution in 2013 and showed renewed discretionary spending restraint in the fourth quarter amid further global economic and political uncertainty."

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