A recent Consumer Confidence Index survey conducted by Bayt.com, the Middle East’s number one job site, and YouGov, a research and consulting organisation, has shown that the overall sentiment in the region is less than positive for the present time. However, optimism for the year to come remains comparatively high.
Overall, there is a propensity towards less positive sentiment towards the present situation across the region. Only 26% of the respondents to the Consumer Confidence Index survey believed that their personal financial situation is better now than it was this time last year, and only 25% feel optimistic about the current economy of their country. This is not considered to be a good time for business (according to 37%), with 43% stating that now is a ‘bad time’ to buy consumer durables. In terms of employment, almost half of respondents (49%) claim that there are ‘very few jobs’ available, yet of those who are currently employed, 26% state that their company has more employees than at the same time last year. At 66%, the majority believe that their salaries have not kept pace with the cost of living.
There is definitely hope for a more positive future however, as 52% of MENA respondents believe that their personal finances will become better in a year’s time, and all countries expect that business conditions will improve. Inflation continues to generate a negative outlook across the board, with the cost of real estate being badly looked upon in all countries. Only 23% of respondents are optimistic about the future growth of their companies in terms of employees, with all countries sharing a neutral opinion about their companies being able to keep up with staffing demands.
In general, there is little interest in purchasing a vehicle or property, however those who are planning or considering a large purchase will buy new. There is more interest in purchasing laptops and desktop computers than in any other major purchases, followed by furniture.
“The appraisal of the current situation is subdued across the board, in terms of economy, commerce and employment. This sentiment is echoed in most countries, however there is a considerably more positive outlook for the near future as people look forward to improved conditions all around,” said Suhail Masri, VP Sales at Bayt.com. “Bayt.com provides more than just an online portal for job-seeking convenience; we deliver substantial data regarding the region’s most important issues, giving employers and job-seekers alike an appraisal of the current situation and future expectations.”
“Given the current climate in the Middle East and, to an extent, globally, it is to be expected that sentiments for the present are low and that there is hope for a more positive future. The MENA region presents a mostly unified front in terms of opinions and aspirations, with an especially positive outlook for future financial and commercial conditions,” said Sundip Chahal, CEO at YouGov.
In the UAE
UAE respondents mostly feel that there is no change in their personal financial situation, when compared to the same time last year; 43% believe their situation is the same, 28% believe that their situation is worse, and only 24% state that things are better. A similar balance is true with regards to the opinion of the country’s economy –34% believe that it is the same as last year, 29% believe that it is worse, and 27% believe that it has improved.
Sentiment is somewhat dispassionate in terms of business; 41% believe that this is a ‘neutral time’ for business conditions (only 19% state that this is a ‘good time’), while 45% believe that this is a ‘neutral time to buy’ goods and only 18% think it is a good time to do so.
Employment conditions are not considered to be too favourable, with 43% claiming that there are very few jobs available; 35% of respondents say that their company has less employees now than it did this time last year (28% claim that they now have more colleagues). Salaries are considered not to have kept up with the cost of living, according to a massive 70%.
As ever, there is considerable optimism for the future in the UAE, with 46% stating their belief that their personal financial situation will be better in a year’s time, while 45% hold hope that the country’s economy will also have improved. Business and employment conditions are expected to become more favourable by 46% and 31% of respondents, respectively. Despite this, only 23% are optimistic that their companies will grow in terms of number of employees, with 40% remaining neutral with regards to meeting staffing requirements. Satisfaction with career prospects, growth and job security remains neutral to negative; only 15% favour their prospects in the coming year, only 18% believe there will be the opportunity for career growth, and only 22% are confident in the security of their job. A 47% majority are dissatisfied with their current compensation.
Inflation will continue to have a negative impact upon the cost of living according to 36%, and the cost of property for rental or purchase is still creating a feeling of negativity according to 30% of respondents.
Only 25% of respondents are considering buying a vehicle in the coming year, with just 17% looking to buy property. Of these, the majority will buy new. The most desirable major purchase is a laptop or desktop computer, followed by furniture.
Data for the quarterly Bayt.com Consumer Confidence Index survey – March 2012 was collected online from January 30 – February 14 2012, with 9,324 respondents aged over 18 years, covering GCC Arab, North African, Levant, Western Expatriate and Asian nationalities. Countries who participated are UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan.