x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Consumer confidence up in Abu Dhabi with government spending on the rise

Consumer confidence rose during the first quarter in Abu Dhabi, led by a positive outlook on government policies.

Consumers were however less positive about their own financial prospects, especially the costs of children's education and family activities over the summer. Galen Clarke / The National
Consumers were however less positive about their own financial prospects, especially the costs of children's education and family activities over the summer. Galen Clarke / The National

Consumer confidence rose during the first quarter in the capital, led by a positive outlook on government policies.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development index climbed five points since the last quarter of 2012 to 128, and two points up compared to the same period a year earlier.

"The economy is still gaining speed," said Simon Williams, the chief economist for the Middle East and North Africa at HSBC, which released its own index on Monday that showed private-sector activity rose to a three-month high in May.

"Government spending is rising. Job creation is picking up and access to credit is improving as well. On that basis it doesn't surprise me that the consumer confidence numbers are also beginning to firm," he added.

Confidence in the Government's policies topped all other indicators but the outlook on jobs was also positive, with a score of 149 compared to 129 the same period a year before.

Emirati citizens were more optimistic than those of other nationalities by 11 points - although they were less positive than earlier in the year.

"The level of optimism among citizens had declined during the month of March by about 4 points compared to February, where the index value for individual citizens scored 132 and 136 points respectively as a result of the drop in optimism about the availability of good and suitable jobs for them," said the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

Taken together, expatriates were the most optimistic about the future of the emirate's economy.

And both public and private sector employees were more positive during the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2012, due to an improvement in economic performance combined with a large number of government projects which created optimism and a sense of job security, according to the department.

However, the unemployed were less positive about their prospects in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2012, "as a result of the high expectations of individuals in general compared to growth rates in the emirate, where the creation of real and good jobs needs more time," said the department.

People were also less positive about their own financial prospects, partly due to persistently high prices, especially the costs of children's education and family activities over the summer.

Consumer confidence was high among 18- to 30-year-olds, and undergraduate and postgraduate certificate holders were the most optimistic.

 

gduncan@thenational.ae