Consumer confidence in Vietnam rose two points to 97 in the third quarter of this year as local job prospects and personal finance are expected to be more positive next year.

According to the latest Consumer Confidence Index released on November 21 by Nielsen, a global information and measurement company, the index was the highest since the beginning of the year.

Southeast Asia 's index in the third quarter continued to rank among the highest globally, despite having leveled out in the latest quarter, while consumers said they were saving for the future and re-prioritising their discretionary spending to save on household expenses.

According to the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, Indonesia reported the highest index score globally of 120 in the third quarter (down four points on the previous quarter and 26 points above the global average of 94).

This was followed by the Philippines which recorded a three-point decrease to 118. Confidence in Thailand fell by two points to 112 in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter, and Malaysia also recorded a two-point decline to 101.

Confidence in Singapore increased by three points to 98 in the third quarter.

"Although four Southeast Asian markets recorded a fall in consumer confidence compared to the previous quarter, it is important to keep these modest declines in perspective," said Matt Krepsik, executive director of Nielsen's Marketing Effectiveness business in Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific.

"These latest Nielsen findings suggest a level of cautious optimism throughout Southeast Asia as consumers balance their expansion of wealth between spending and channelling their spare cash into savings to ensure their future financial security."

Job prospects

The survey showed that confidence rose as the perceptions about local job prospect and state of personal finance in Vietnam improved.

In the third quarter, the number of online respondents in Vietnam who felt good or excellent about local job prospects increased to 47 percent, 5 percent higher than the second quarter and 7 percent higher than a year ago.

This number, though, remained lower than the regional benchmark at 60 percent. On the other hand, one in two respondents (50 percent) show confidence in financial outlook, up two points from the previous quarter.

The survey pointed out that Southeast Asians continued to rank among the world's biggest savers, and channelling excess funds into savings was the number-one area cited by consumers in the region after covering essential living expenses.

Seeking value

Up to nine in 10 Southeast Asian consumers said they had changed their spending to save on household expenses over the last year.

Consumers in Thailand and Vietnam showed the strongest inclination to curb household expenses (90 percent), the highest level recorded globally in the Nielsen survey and 26 points higher than the global average of 64 percent; followed by Indonesia (82 percent), the Philippines (80 percent), Malaysia (79 percent) and Singapore (62 percent).

Areas where consumers indicated they would look to cut back to save on household expenses included fashion and on out-of-home entertainment.

Consumers in Vietnam were the most likely to reduce their spending on new clothes (62 percent), followed by Malaysia (61 percent) and the Philippines (61 percent), while Vietnam consumers also indicated the strongest inclination to cut back on out-of-home entertainment (60 percent), followed by Thailand (57 percent) and Malaysia (52 percent).

"Southeast Asian consumers are thrifty value-seekers and are prioritising their household expenditures as they look to invest for the future," said Krepsik.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns, and spending intentions among more than 30,000 respondents with internet access in 60 countries.

Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism or pessimism.-VNA