Fri, Jul 03, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Taiwanese still willing to spend on food, fun: study

SAVINGS: Despite their willingness to spend, a majority of locals say they plan to increase their savings in the next half year because of ongoing economic uncertainty

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite the economic downturn, Taiwanese still assign great importance to food and entertainment.

Like their counterparts in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Taiwanese consumers rank dining and entertainment as their top spending priority for the six months ahead, a MasterCard Survey on Consumer Purchasing Priorities released yesterday showed.

Seventy-three percent of Taiwanese respondents in the semi-annual survey said dining and entertainment was their spending priority, followed by extracurricular activities for children at 49 percent and fashion and accessories at 41 percent.

Sixty-nine percent of the ­respondents in 21 global markets shared the same sentiment about dining and entertainment, while spending on fashion and accessories ranks second at 49 percent, and fitness comes next at 36 percent, the survey said.

Consumer electronics and extracurricular activities for children tied for fourth place at 34 percent across the Asia-Pacific region, the survey said.

Yuwa Hedrick-Wong (王月魂), a Singapore-based economic adviser to MasterCard Worldwide for the Asia-Pacific region, said the ongoing recession appeared to have a limited impact on middle income earners as many keep similar spending plans.

“The findings support an optimistic outlook for efforts to stimulate private consumption against the global slump, providing there is no surprise development,” the economist said in the statement.

However, the survey showed that a large majority of Taiwanese intended to tighten their belts in the second half of the year, while extracurricular activities for children was the least likely item to be sacrificed.

Sixty-two percent of Taiwanese consumers said they planned to cut spending, the highest among all markets, and they listed extracurricular activities for children as the most indispensable at 87.9 percent, followed by fitness at 73.1 percent and continuing education at 71.9 percent, the survey said.

The finding reaffirms an emphasis on family bonds and education among Taiwanese, according to the survey, which was conducted by telephone and face-to-face interviews between March 23 and April 18.

In total, 6,011 respondents aged 18 and above were surveyed.

Separately, the Council for Economic Planning and Development issued a statement yesterday saying the economy had hit bottom in the first half of the year and has started on a slow and protracted recovery.

The council said the contraction was likely to have hit between 3.36 percent and 9.37 percent for the past six months and would recover to growth of between 0.15 percent and 3.72 percent in the second half, citing reports by the statistics agency and domestic think tanks.

The council said commodity prices would remain stable through the year, with the consumer price index was forecast to dip 0.84 percent or grow 0.17 percent.

However, the agency portrayed fuel costs and the (A)H1N1 flu virus as elements that may threaten the recovery, if they surge beyond control in the coming months.

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