Malaysian consumers concerned about rising inflation but still positive on economic outlook: UOB

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian consumers are planning to maintain or reduce spending due to concerns about rising inflation, although they remain positive about the economic outlook.

They are also focused on securing long-term financial health through savings, investment and insurance, according to the latest Asean Consumer Sentiment Study 2023.

ACSS is UOB's flagship survey, conducted online between June 1 and June 26 this year involving 3,400 participants in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, with a specific focus on 600 Malaysian respondents.

Malaysian consumers express optimism regarding the economic outlook in comparison to the region, with two-thirds anticipating improved financial circumstances for themselves by June 2024.

Three-quarters of respondents believe that Malaysia might experience an economic downturn in the next six to 12 months, although the pessimistic sentiment has eased compared to the previous year.

"With this optimism, about 30 per cent of Malaysian consumers plan to increase their allocation for savings, investment and insurance.

"While spending on insurance tops Baby Boomers list, Gen Z and Y are more focused on increasing their savings. Gen X, on the other hand, prioritises their investments," UOB said.

UOB Malaysia managing director and country head of personal financial services Ronnie Lim is encouraged to see Malaysians investing in their financial future.

"With the valuable insights from ACSS, we can better understand consumer behaviours to sharpen our focus and offer more personalised banking solutions catering to their unique needs and preferences," Lim said.

Additionally, three out of four Malaysian consumers surveyed are increasingly more concerned about their finances, due to rising inflation, increased household expenses, and a decline in savings or wealth holdings.

Thirty-seven per cent surveyed indicated they had increased spending on essentials such as groceries, with another 35 per cent had spent more on utilities.

Consequentially, Malaysian consumers are most worried about having the ability to set aside money for saving (34 per cent), ability to afford essential items (30 per cent), and ability to maintain current lifestyles (26 per cent).

"Separately, on discretionary spending, consumers are cutting back spending on jewellery (36 per cent), vacation (35 per cent) and dining out (34 per cent)," UOB said.

There is a notable enthusiasm among Malaysian consumers for sustainable investing.

"About 29 per cent of consumers have already integrated sustainable investments into their wealth-building portfolios, and an additional 58 per cent express interest in exploring such investments," UOB said.

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