Making news

ASEAN consumers bolster spending in Q4 2017

The ASEAN Consumer Index rose by 1.5 points to 69 points in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to a survey conducted by the Financial Times Confidential Research (FTCR), an independent research service from the Financial Times newspaper.

The survey is based on interviews with 5,000 consumers in the five ASEAN nations of Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

It showed faster quarterly growth on average in all three components of the index: household income, discretionary spending and consumer borrowing. Discretionary spending rose faster than income, which contributed to the acceleration in regional consumer borrowing growth.

The fourth-quarter index rise coincided with stronger GDP expansion among the five ASEAN economies. While GDP growth for the last quarter has yet to be released, these economies in general have been experiencing accelerating growth since the first quarter of 2017 after going through a slowdown in 2016.

The ASEAN Household Income Index rose 0.7 points to 72.7. Thai consumers were the biggest factor behind the income index improvement, contributing just over half of the rise. Malaysians were the only group to report slower income growth during the quarter.

Meanwhile, the ASEAN Discretionary Spending Index rose 3.1 points to 69.3, indicating faster growth in non-essential spending compared with the previous quarter. All five consumer groups reported faster discretionary spending growth. Thai consumers were the biggest contributors to the spending index rise, followed by Filipinos.

According to FTCR, the faster discretionary spending growth relative to household income growth has pushed up borrowing demand, especially in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Hence, the Consumer Borrowing Index rose 0.6 points to 65 in the final quarter of 2017.