Lebanese consumers upbeat about economy’s prospects
Residents in Lebanon have a positive outlook on the country’s economy as well as their financial future with the consumer confidence index moving up 11.4 points compared to last quarter, according to the latest results from the recent Consumer Confidence Index study carried out by Bayt.com, one of the Middle East’s most popular job sites, and research and consulting organization, YouGov.
However, the survey revealed that 73 percent feel that their current salary is not in line with the cost of living, with 41 percent stating buying consumer durables is not practical in the present situation.
The study shows that prospects for the future appear quite positive for Lebanon survey takers, with 46 percent believing that their financial position will improve in a year’s time, while a good 19 percent claim it will stay the same and only 10 percent believe it will get worse. In parallel, 24 percent of respondents expect that the economy will get better within the same time frame.
However, this claim won’t essentially mean an increase in the number of jobs. While 69 percent feel there will be either no change or fewer jobs in a year’s time, only 16 percent of think there will be more jobs available. Similarly, 29 percent seem pessimistic about the possibility of increase in their organization’s employee count in the coming quarter, while only 15 percent feel the opposite and believe that there will be positive growth, and 36 percent share a neutral outlook on the same.
Asked about companies addressing staffing requirements in the coming three months, 39 percent of Lebanon survey-takers are neutral, with 14 percent seeming optimistic and 27 percent appearing quite pessimistic. “While a certain number of countries witnessed a drop in their Consumer Confidence Index since last quarter, the region’s overall sentiment toward the future remains positive. It will be interesting to see if the region can slowly, but surely, reach a long-term period of true stability in the near future,” explained Amer Zureikat, vice president of sales at Bayt.com.
With regard to the respondents’ present financial situation in Lebanon, 35 percent have experienced no change, but the situation is worse for 31 percent of survey takers, while 26 percent have had an improved financial position in comparison to the previous year.
The survey’s respondents also remain unsure on the prudence of purchasing consumer durable goods, with 41 percent of Lebanon respondents saying “now is a bad time to buy.” Only 12 percent believe that this is a good time to buy, while 40 percent stay neutral. Additionally, with 62 percent of Lebanon residents opting to shy away from investments in property and 59 percent from purchasing a car in the next 12 months, only 18 percent will look into investing in properties and 22 percent in a car.
Among those who are willing to make such investments in a year’s time, 57 percent said they will be buying a “new” property and 56 percent a new car, while 36 percent said they will opt for a used one. “We conduct our quarterly Middle East Consumer Confidence Index Survey in order to chart how consumer confidence levels are changing as the region goes through different economic cycles, and faces the challenges and pressures wrought by economic trends and events across the globe,” said Zureikat. “This seeks to provide all stakeholders, from regional businesses to local organizations and HR professionals with up-to-date information that is both relevant and reliable as a snapshot of current market trends.”
When it comes to employment, only 14 percent of Lebanon respondents appear to be highly satisfied with their career prospects, while 35 percent have neutral sentiments, and 42 percent are displeased. Correspondingly, only 22 percent appear to be highly satisfied with their career growth in their current organization, while 42 percent seem unhappy and 31 percent are neutral. “Gauging consumer opinion is a powerful tool for revealing the current attitudes and sentiments about the business and economic conditions in a specific country, and to see how these change overtime,” said Sundip Chahal, Chief Operating Officer of YouGov.
Data from the Consumer Confidence Index survey shows that feelings on the level of job security in Lebanon are relatively balanced, with 30 percent saying they are highly satisfied, while 36 percent have neutral feelings toward their job security. Twenty-seven percent are unsatisfied.
Data for the quarterly Bayt.com Consumer Confidence Index survey was collected online from Aug. 24 to Sept. 20, with 7,864 respondents from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Pakistan.