Consumer confidence this month has slipped to an 11-month low as people expressed less interest in purchasing durable goods amid a lingering COVID-19 outbreak and movement restrictions, although optimism about stock investments increased, a survey released yesterday by National Central University found.
The consumer confidence index dropped 4.4 points to 70.48 from last month, with five of the six subindices weakening and one indicator gaining, the survey of 2,995 adults showed.
“The results were unsurprising as local infections have subsided, but not fast enough for authorities to lift the nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert,” said Dachrahn Wu (吳大任), director of the university’s Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development, which conducted the survey.
Wu said that he expected consumer sentiment to improve or stabilize next month, helped by a rapidly rising vaccination rate following vaccine donations from Japan and the US.
People expressed less interest in the consumption of durable goods, with the subindex reporting the steepest retreat of 16.5 points to 94.25, its lowest reading since July 2010, the survey showed.
Wu said that it is natural for people to avoid or postpone buying vehicles, appliances and other big-ticket items when the outlook for employment and income is uncertain.
Interest in real estate remained relatively high, despite declining 2.5 points to 113.05, Wu said, adding that the retreat was probably related to movement restrictions due to the outbreak.
Confidence scores of less than 100 points indicate pessimism, while values of more than 100 suggest optimism.
The household income gauge fell 4.55 points to 87.2, while the job market gauge declined 4 points to 66.25, the survey showed.
Service providers, except for e-commerce companies and firms in supply chains, have been hit hard, as the government urges people to stay home to help rein in the outbreak.
People felt less confident about economic growth, with the subindex dropping 2.45 points to 86.8.
The consumer price gauge declined 1.5 points to 39.85, as people considered prices to be too high, rather than searching for good deals, the survey showed.
The stock investment gauge on stock investment bucked the downtrend with a rise of 2.5 points to 48.5, as the TAIEX rallied above 17,000 points this month thanks to investors becoming more interested in buying local shares, Wu said.
Strong corporate earnings and clear order visibility lent support to the local bourse, he added.
The virus outbreak would begin to come under control when the vaccine coverage reaches 20 to 30 percent, allowing consumer confidence to rebound, Wu said.
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