Malaysians still among the world’s top savers


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian consumers’ saving habit, at 67%, is one of the highest globally, according to the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions.

In a statement today, Nielsen said the saving intentions among Malaysian and Southeast Asian consumers continue to be a priority, based on its survey for the first quarter of this year.

“The region’s consumers are the world’s most avid savers with all six countries securing the top 10 spots globally when it comes to saving,” it added.

The survey involved 30,000 respondents with Internet access in 63 countries.

“About one-third of Malaysians are also focused on building their financial nests by channelling extra cash towards investing in shares of stock/mutual funds (32%) and retirement fund (27%), while two in five respondents used any extra money to clear debts, credit card debts or loans (41%),” it said.

While the intent to save is high, the survey found that Malaysian consumers are also ready to indulge on big ticket items such as holidays or vacations (up 4% to 40%), upgrading of new technology products (up 7% to 19%), out-of-home entertainment (up 5% to 18%) and home improvements or decorating (up 2% to 18%) in Q1 2016 as per the previous quarter.

The survey also revealed that consumers in Malaysia continue to reduce household spending, even when economic conditions can improve, with nearly nine in 10 Malaysian consumers changing their spending habits in the past year to improve savings (88%).

The top three areas where consumers in Malaysia continue to cut back even when economic conditions can improve are, spending less on new clothes (65%), reducing out-of-home entertainment (56%) and switching to cheaper grocery brands (51%).

In the region, Vietnam maintains its first ranking saving intentions at 78%, followed by Indonesia (75%), the Philippines (69%) and Singapore (67%) shared same placing with Malaysia, while Thailand (66%) took sixth spot.

On average, only half of global consumers prioritise saving any spare cash (51%).

Meanwhile, Nielsen said Malaysia’s consumer confidence index remained stable, down one point to 79 percentage points (pp) in Q1 2016.

Malaysia is now ranked 36th as the most confident country globally, it said.