Consumer sentiment in PH improves slightly in Q1 2024


THE sentiment of Filipino consumers has shown a slight improvement in the first quarter of 2024, according to a survey released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

In a statement Friday, April 12, 2024, the central bank said the overall confidence index (CI) became less negative at -10.9 percent, up from -19 percent in the fourth and last quarter of 2023. The first quarter of this year includes the months of January, February and March, while last year’s fourth quarter groups the months of October, November and December.

“This improvement means that although the pessimists continued to outnumber the optimists, the number of pessimists declined compared to the Q4 (fourth quarter) 2023 survey results,” the BSP said.

A CI is a statistical measure designed to gauge how consumers or businesses feel about current and future economic conditions.

Respondents attributed their improved outlook in this year’s first quarter to expectations of additional and higher income, more job availability and additional employed family members.

Last Thursday, April 11, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the country’s unemployment rate recorded a slight decrease to 3.5 percent in February 2024 from 4.8 percent in the same month last year. This translates to 1.8 million unemployed individuals for the month. Unemployment in January this year stood at 4.5 percent.

Outlook for Q2 2024

However, the BSP said consumers expressed less optimism for the second quarter of 2024 and the following 12 months. It said CIs declined, reflecting concerns about rising prices, fewer jobs, and lower income.

This less optimistic sentiment was consistent across all income groups, according to the BSP.

Consumers indicated less hesitancy about purchasing big-ticket items in the first quarter of 2024 and the next 12 months, compared to the previous survey.

The percentage of households with loans and savings increased in the first quarter of this year.

According to the BSP, consumers anticipate higher inflation, interest rates and a weaker peso against the U.S. dollar for the first and second quarters of 2024. They expect an average inflation rate of 5.3 percent for the next 12 months, exceeding the government’s target range.

The Philippines saw its inflation rate increase to 3.7 percent in March this year, according to figures released by the PSA on Friday, April 5.

This rise, fueled by higher food prices and transportation costs, is up from February’s rate of 3.4 percent, but still lower than the 7.6 percent recorded in March 2023.

March’s 3.7 percent inflation rate approaches the upper limit of the government’s targeted two percent to four percent range. This marks the second consecutive month of increasing inflation after a four-month downward trend. / KAL


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