UAE among top five in consumer confidence

The UAE remained one of the five countries in the world with the highest level of consumer confidence in the first half of 2008, according to a study.

The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index measures the confidence, major concerns and spending habits of online consumers in 51 countries.

The UAE's consumer confidence rating dropped two points to 111 points out of a possible 200. It scored 113 points during the second half of 2007 and 140 in the first half of 2007.

However the overall global consumer confidence rating declined by six points during the first half of 2008 to 88 points, reflecting increasing concern over soaring inflation, job insecurity and falling property prices.

"UAE consumers continued to be optimistic about their job prospects and remained confident about the UAE economy," said Piyush Mathur, Nielsen's regional managing director for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

"This has kept the UAE among the top five countries for consumer confidence."

He said job prospects had supported the UAE's ranking during the last six months.

"US consumers lost 260,000 jobs during the first four months of 2008 while the UAE added 640,000 jobs during the same period. This played a major role in increasing consumer confidence in the UAE economy.

"The US and the UK achieved 83 and 79 points respectively on the index, while the UAE achieved 111 points. This reflects the optimistic sentiment among the UAE consumers."

Mathur said inflation was a major concern among UAE consumers during the past six months but the economy remained buoyant, in stark contrast to the US, which has seen a 17-point fall in its consumer confidence rating.

The report contains key findings about UAE consumers' confidence looking forward to the next 12 months. A total of 74 per cent were optimistic about their job prospects and 71 per cent were optimistic about their personal finances.

The survey, which was conducted online with 500 respondents from the UAE, shows that a third of consumers have concerns about their work-life balance over the next six months while 15 per cent voiced concern about the future of the UAE economy. Some 11 per cent are concerned about their job security, nine per cent about their children's education and welfare, eight per cent about their parents' welfare and happiness and six per cent about their debts.

And the survey shows only three per cent of UAE consumers are worried about terrorist attacks on the country. Three per cent are worried about political stability and one per cent are concerned about crime.

"In our survey 61 per cent of the respondents in the UAE identified inflation as their top concern in the event of an economic downturn," said Mathur.