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Vietnamese consumers optimistic about early economic recovery   2009-04-27 - VietNamNet/TN

A majority of Vietnamese consumers are upbeat about getting out of the economic downturn by next year, a Nielsen survey has found. 


Many people in the country said they will continue spending money on traveling and getting new gadgets, according to the survey, which polled 25,000 Internet users in 50 economies between March and April.


Vietnam’s confidence index fell to 84.5 from 97.1 in October 2008, according to the twice-yearly survey, published by the Nielsen Company on Wednesday.


The global average consumer confidence index recorded an all-time low score of 77 points, down seven points from October 2008.


Seventy-four percent of the Vietnamese surveyed claimed they believe the country is in a recession, up from 52 percent in October 2008.


The government is seeking the National Assembly’s approval for cutting the economic growth target to 5 percent, the lowest since 1999, from an earlier estimate of 6.5 percent after the economy posted its weakest first-quarter expansion in a decade.


Economic growth was 3.1 percent in the first quarter, down from 7.4 percent in the same period last year.


However, Vietnamese “remain relatively resilient,” the survey said, with 60 percent – the highest percentage globally – believing their country will be out of the recession within 12 months.


“History tells us that the Vietnamese people are resilient and today they still remain relatively positive when compared to the rest of the world,” said Aaron Cross, managing director of Nielsen Company Vietnam.


“GDP [gross domestic product] growth estimates for 2009 have been revised down by most experts, but we are still a long way from being in a recession in Vietnam,” he said.


Yet the fear of recession has started to bite, though not too severely.


More than half of the Vietnamese surveyed said they have changed their spending habits to save on household expenses, by cutting back on new clothes, entertainment and even gas and electricity.


However, while 54 percent of the Vietnamese surveyed said they would save all available cash for times ahead, 27 percent said they are trying to find a good work/life balance when taking holidays. A quarter of those surveyed also said they spent their spare money on buying the latest hi-tech products.


One in two Vietnamese consumers surveyed claimed job prospects and the state of their personal finances over the next year “aren’t looking good.”


The country’s labor authorities said 50,000 people lost their jobs in the first quarter, and predicted a total of 400,000 layoffs this year.


However, according to the survey, Vietnamese are the 6th most optimistic about future job prospects globally.


The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index was launched in 2005. A reading above 100 is considered upbeat. The highest reading since the index's launch was 137, an individual score for India in the second half of 2006. India's score was 99 in the latest survey.


As the credit crisis and impact of economic recession in advanced countries has affected emerging markets, consumer confidence in the so-called BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – has declined sharply in the past six months.


However, the drop was much less marked in China, where consumers remain among the top 10 most confident consumers globally.


Vietnam is the 11th most confident country globally, but that’s down from 9th in October 2008 and 7th in first half 2008.


Consumers in parts of Eastern Europe were among the most pessimistic and confidence plunged in Hungary and Latvia.


South Koreans retained the most pessimistic ranking, followed by Japan, as both economies have been hit by plunging exports this year as global demand has evaporated.

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