Vietnam’s consumer confidence remained fairly stagnant with one point increase to stand at 88 for the last quarter of 2012.

But it was 11 points lower than a year ago, according to Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.

In Vietnam, the number of respondents in a recession increased from 76 percent in the third quarter to 79 percent in the fourth quarter, an 18 percent increase since the beginning of the year.

The economy was again the biggest concern among Vietnamese consumers, increasing seven points to 27 percent in the fourth quarter.

Higher utility bills (electricity, gas, heating, etc.) and job security followed with 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

The survey showed that about 37 percent of Vietnamese online respondents described their job prospects in the fourth quarter as good or /excellent, a decline from 40 percent in the third quarter and 58 percent from a year ago.

Forty-four percent of Vietnamese consumers were confident that their personal finances will be good or excellent in the coming year, a slight increase of two points compared to the previous quarter. However, this was a decline of 10 points compared to a year ago.

Saving discretionary cash was the top choice (60 percent) among Vietnamese consumers, but it remained flat compared to the previous quarter.

Ninety-one percent of respondents said they had changed their spending to save on household expenses, mainly on new clothes (71 percent), out-of-home entertainment (68 percent), gas and electricity (68 percent) and upgrade of technology (57 percent).

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, conducted between November 10–27 last year, polled more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and North America.-VNA