SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Eat, drink and be merry -- and join the majority of people in the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific who, a new survey shows, intend to keep on enjoying the good life in the coming year.
Dining and entertainment were the top areas most of the 10,623 people surveyed across the Asia Pacific and the Middle East said they were going to keep spending on over the next six months -- regardless of the global economic climate.
It was also as one of the top three spending priorities for Africa respondents, according to a MasterCard survey that canvassed 24 markets spanning these regions.
The survey showed 16 markets out of the total ranked having fun and a meal out as their top discretionary, or non-essential, spending priority, a figure that includes many Australians, Chinese, Indians, Thais and Egyptians.
"The latest findings are positive for a stronger outlook of domestic consumption in 2010, and barring any unexpected shocks to the economy, we expect private consumption to continue to grow," Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Asia Pacific adviser for MasterCard Worldwide, said in a statement.
A previous Mastercard survey had ranked dining and entertainment as the top spend for this year in the same regions, despite the global economic downturn.
The latest poll showed consumers also determined to keep on buying fashion and accessories, another top discretionary spend, over the next six months.
The majority of Africans surveyed said they intend to buy or renovate their homes during the next six months, making that the top consumer priority in that region, but discretionary spend was also one of the top priorities for Indians, whose economy has been growing despite the global financial crisis.
The MasterCard Survey of Consumer Purchasing Priorities is released twice yearly and the latest poll was conducted in October and November.
Among the 10 main discretionary spend categories the survey looked at the most resilient, or less prone to cutbacks, appears to be private tuition and extracurricular activities for children in the Middle East and Africa.
By contrast, consumers across the Asia Pacific have said they expect to cut back least on fitness and wellness.
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Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by Jerry Norton