Consumer confidence weakening, latest Ipsos survey shows

Updated 15 Jan 2020

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The respondents feel that inflation, job insecurity and additional taxes are the top three most worrying issues faced by the country at the moment. — APP/File
The respondents feel that inflation, job insecurity and additional taxes are the top three most worrying issues faced by the country at the moment. — APP/File

KARACHI: In its latest survey, Ipsos, a Paris-based market research and consulting firm, showed that the respondents think the country is moving in the wrong direction as consumers fear the economy is likely to become weaker in the next six months.

The respondents feel that inflation, job insecurity and additional taxes are the top three most worrying issues faced by the country at the moment.

In a survey of 2,900 participants across the rural and urban areas of the country during July-December period of this fiscal year, 79 per cent of the respondents were pessimistic in their outlook for local and national economy.

The survey participants said that during the last 12 months, they have grown less comfortable in purchasing basic household items or making major purchases such as a car or home.

They also feel that their ability to invest in the future and retain their current job in the existing economic condition has weakened.

In one of the surveys, four out of 10 respondents said that they personally know someone who has lost their jobs. The findings showed that nine out of 10 consumers feel less comfortable while purchasing general household items as well as major ones including car, houses etc, whereas only one in 10 described their current economic situation as strong.

The consumers also feel that the country’s and their current financial situation is “bad” and don’t expect the circumstances to get any better within the next six months as only one of the 10 respondents showed optimism about their well-being in near future.

Compared to other emerging markets, Pakistan also ranked lowest on investment index which reflects the respondents’ perception of current and future financial situation and major and household purchase comfort.

The country’s investment index was calculated at 19.1 by Ipsos far below India’s 64.7, South Africa 40.6, Turkey 27.5 and Brazil 50.4.

The country’s overall national index ranking was the lowest among all 27 countries surveyed by Ipsos, primarily driven by very low scores of current and investment indices. Pakistani consumers have had to brace high inflation averaging at around 10.16 per cent during the last 12 months as the government increased prices of utilities and fuel after agreeing to a $6 billion International Monetary Fund bailout.

The survey’s present situation measure, based on consumers’ assessment of their financial situation, level of satisfaction with the way things are going, state of local and national economy, decreased to 19.2 from 19.5 in August 2019.

When asked whether they expect their quality of life to improve in the next five years, four of the 10 respondents were pessimistic. In addition, three said that they are unlikely to afford any leisure activities in the next couple of years and feel that they are not going ahead financially.

The relatively downbeat survey results mirror outlooks published by other local and international research firms who have shared similar forecast amid tightening monetary policy stance, fiscal consolidation, high interest rates and rising inflation.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020