Asians will bargain hunt for the good life: survey

Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:27am EST
 
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By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Wining, dining and fashion are still a priority for Asia-Pacific consumers, but a regional survey shows that the global financial crisis is motivating them to hunt for bargains and save more.

The survey, conducted by MasterCard and released on Wednesday, involved more than 6,000 consumers in 14 markets ranging from Australia to China during September -- just as the worst of the global financial crisis was taking hold.

It showed more than 70 percent are looking to cut back spending on discretionary, or non-essential, items such as travel, entertainment, fashion and accessories over the next 12 months, with people in only four countries optimistic about employment, the economy, the stock market and quality of life.

"In many markets, people are still very keen on certain discretionary items, but there is no escaping the conclusion that people will become more price sensitive," Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard's Asia-Pacific economic adviser, told Reuters.

CASH IN POCKET BUT CAUTIOUS

According to the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Purchasing Priorities, consumers in Asia-Pacific currently spend on average 10-20 percent of their annual income on discretionary items.

Across the region, dining and entertainment is the discretionary spend nearly 60 percent people regard as the highest priority, followed by fashion and accessories (46 percent), children's extra-curricular education (44 percent) and personal travel (42 percent).

Hedrick-Wong said the last two items -- education and travel -- were uniquely Asian, with parents keen to turn their children into over-achievers and more youth keen to see the world.   Continued...

 
<p>A woman holds money at a shop in Tokyo in this October 16, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Files</p>