South Korea’s consumer confidence index scored 51 in the first quarter of this year, marking the lowest since the first quarter of 2010, Nielson said Monday.
The index figure appears to have been weakened by the rising inflation rate following unusual weather conditions and food-and-mouth disease outbreaks, the market research firm said. In the same period, global consumer confidence index rose to 92, up 2 points compared to the previous quarter.
“Global recovery, despite its slow pace, is heading in the right direction. But still, more than half of global online consumers say they are currently in a recession, and of those, 51 percent expect to be in a recession for at least another year.” said Shin Eun-hee, managing director of Nielsen Company Korea. “In the last 18 months, we have seen a clear divergence in how regions and countries are emerging from the global recession and this trend has become even more pronounced in the first quarter.”
Shin said the consumer inflation rate has been steadily rising since 2010 due to unusually cold weather and foot-and-mouth disease in dairy, beef and pig farms. Although the unemployment rate has been slightly reduced by job creation in the private sector, overall consumer sentiment has continued to weaken due to the sluggish housing marketing, rising interest rates and high oil prices, she said.
Among Asia Pacific consumers, ‘economy’ and ‘rising food prices’ (both 14 percent) are ranked first as their major concerns, followed by ‘work and life balance’ (12 percent) and ‘health’ (11 percent). Koreans said ‘economy’ (14 percent) was their most pressing concern, followed by ‘children’s education/welfare’ (9 percent) as well as ‘work & life balance’ (12 percent).