Pinoys upbeat despite harsh times — survey

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — FILIPINOS remain upbeat despite the global financial crisis, as they are still spending on clothes, holidays and gadgetry, a survey revealed yesterday.

The Philippines was one of only seven out of 51 countries that did not experience a drop in consumer confidence this year, according to the online survey conducted by research group Nielsen Co. from September 22 to October 6.

“Filipinos’ spare cash (is) increasingly going into vacations, new clothes, paying off debts, home improvements, (and) retirement,” it said.

Nielsen Philippines managing director Benedicto Cid said the poll of 500 people found the country scored 102 on the Nielsen consumer confidence index, a three-point increase on the previous survey in the first half of the year.

The global average is 84, and South Korea had the lowest rating with 36.

Filipinos also showed more optimism than most Asia-Pacific countries about job prospects, personal finances and spending, the survey revealed.

Cid credited the confidence on the increased remittances of the eight million Filipinos working overseas, saying this cushioned the country from the effects of the financial crisis.

He said each Filipino working overseas likely supports a family of four, benefiting the entire country as a whole. The recent strength of the U.S. dollar has also encouraged these Filipinos to send more money home.

“People who make money from remittances are the ones keeping the economy afloat,” he said.

The fall in fuel and rice prices had also boosted local optimism, he added.

Despite their optimism, 67 percent of respondents said they believed the Philippines was in a recession even though the country is still enjoying modest growth.

Cid said this may reflect the experience of families that are not receiving remittances and may also be a sign of concern over news of economic developments abroad.

“People see a lot of signs of economic distress. They worry about that. For them, a recession means bad economic news but personally, they are not feeling it yet,” he said.