ME consumer confidence improving, says survey
Dubai, October 4, 2009
Consumer confidence levels across the Middle East has showed a positive increase, according to a survey conducted recently.
Residents across the UAE are feeling a marked improvement in economic conditions, as consumer confidence rose for the second time this year, revealed the latest Consumer Confidence Index (CCI), a quarterly survey conducted by Bayt.com, a leading Middle East’s job site in conjunction with research specialists YouGov.
The survey revealed that the UAE moved up the index by 9.3 points, continuing the country’s course of improved consumer confidence from the last quarter.
Respondents in UAE felt certain features of their economic positions were unchanged from the previous year. More than a third of respondents, 34 per cent, felt that they were in the same financial position as last year, while the same number agreed that their country’s economy was unchanged. Unsurprisingly, respondents are optimistic about the future. Almost half of respondents, 48 per cent, said that they believe business conditions will be better, and 40 per cent said they think their country’s economy will improve in a year’s time.
Confidence in Kuwait rose the highest among the surveyed countries with an increase of 10.0 points, and as in the previous wave, Kuwait and the UAE retain the two top spots in terms of improved confidence.
While Qatar followed with a strong increase of 9.0 points, the picture around the rest of the Gulf varied, with an increase of 5.1 points in Bahrain and 3.4 in Saudi Arabia.
Despite being one of the only countries in the Middle East to record a consistent improvement in consumer confidence over the past year, Lebanon in this wave was the only country to deteriorate, moving down the index by 0.7 points. By comparison, Syria showed a significant improvement of 5.6 points.
In North Africa, Egypt and Morocco topped the table in terms of improved consumer confidence, moving up 7.7 and 6.7 points respectively, contrasted with a move up the index of just 2.6 points in Algeria.
The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) is a measure of consumer expectations and satisfaction of various elements of the economy including inflation, job opportunities and the cost of living.
“While we are not seeing massive jumps up the index, the data shows that there are steady improvements, which reflects what is being reported and felt in economies around the region– namely that things are starting to pick up,” commented Amer Zureikat, Bayt.com’s regional manager.
“Improvements in the index have been seen in countries in the Middle East for around six months now, so the real test as to whether consumer confidence is being sustained and improved as a result of the easing of the recession, will become evident over the next year or so.”
The CCI is in part gauged by asking the respondents about their personal financial situation, and whether they feel that they are better, or worse off than 12 months ago. In the UAE, 21 per cent of respondents said they are better off than last year, while a slightly lower 40 per cent of respondents said they were worse off – the highest figure amongst all surveyed countries.
Around the region, respondents in Qatar recorded the most positive improvements in their financial positions: 35 per cent stated their position was better than last year. The other countries in the GCC reported slight improvements in personal finances: 29 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 26 per cent in Bahrain stated they were better off. Following the UAE, and in line with the results of the last wave, respondents in Jordan were similarly hard hit in terms of their personal finances, with 39 per cent stating they are worse off.
Consumer confidence is also assessed by asking the respondents about their consumer expectations and their level of optimism towards the future. While not such a huge increase as in the previou