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UAE consumers start to score high on optimism

More are now confident of their job prospects over the coming year, says Nielsen findings

Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News
People shopping for Eid at Nesto Hypermarket Butina Sharjah.
Gulf News

Dubai: A sense of optimism seems to be sweeping through UAE consumers, with a majority in a Nielsen survey expressing belief that job prospects are improving. That plus more bullish sentiments about the state of their personal finances ensured the UAE’s consumer confidence score was up two points to 110 for the second quarter. This is the highest in the region.

The UAE scored an eighth spot in the global rankings of economies with the most confident consumers. The Philippines placed first and India second.

Most tellingly, six in 10 UAE respondents were confident about job prospects in the coming year. Half of the respondents were confident about immediate-spending intentions, an increase of three percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2016.

The Nielsen findings mirror wider economic indicators, of gains made by key sectors such as certain retail categories, travel and tourism and construction.

“Once again, the UAE has maintained an index above optimism baseline, showing early signs of recovery from the fall last year,” said Arslan Ashraf, managing director, Nielsen Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan.

“Although not completely out of the woods, the trend is going on a positive track. Discretionary spending intentions are also on the rise, which further validates that there is a growing sense of improving consumer sentiment in the country,” he added.

The bit about discretionary spending would give UAE’s retail and services sector a lot of cheer. The retail space had been severely dented right through 2016. Some key categories such as automotive still have not managed to recover this year as well.

The Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index is fielded quarterly in 63 countries to measure the perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances, immediate spending intentions and related economic issues of real consumers around the world.

UAE respondents were hopeful about their personal finances, with 66 per cent saying they would be good or excellent in the next 12 months, an increase of three percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2016.

Also, the percentage of respondents who cited the economy as a leading concern declined two percentage points. Job security (43 per cent), children’s education/welfare (16 per cent) and work/life balance (12 per cent) topped the list of concerns cited by respondents.

Some of the UAE consumers’ belief was rubbing off on others as well. Saudi Arabia (at 98 points) posted a consumer confidence increase of four points.