Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Damn! Those mollycoddled are spending too little!

On 21 May 2009, AC Nielsen released the report that Consumer confidence in Singapore has plummeted to a record new low. While Singaporeans are more concerned about their job security, they are spending less and saving more.

Consumer Confidence in Singapore - And Around the World- Continues its Downward Spiral: Nielsen

Consumer confidence in Singapore has plummeted to a record new low in the past six months, falling a significant 12 Index points down from 92 to 80, according to the latest twice-yearly Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index which tracks consumer confidence, major concerns and spending habits among 25,420 internet users in 50 countries. This is Singapore’s third consecutive decline from its all time high of 114 recorded in late 2007.

...In fact, Singaporeans are now second among global consumers, after the Arabs, who are most concerned about their job security. While only a quarter (26%) of local respondents cited job security as one of their top concerns six months ago, one in two (49%) Singaporeans are now reportedly losing sleep over the prospect.

“We are currently seeing the worst decline in Singapore employment in the last six years, and since the commencement of the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence study,” noted *Mr Richmond. “Things are definitely not looking good on the job front, not just in Singapore, but also everywhere else in the world.”

...Being the avid savers that they are, this current period of economic uncertainty is providing Singaporeans an even more compelling reason to save, and Singaporeans now make the world’s greatest savers! The intention to save is now seen in three out of four (75%) consumers here—the highest record so far. At 42 percent, holidays/vacations continue to take second priority where it comes to allocation of spare cash.

*Note: Paul Richmond, Managing Director, Consumer Group, The Nielsen Company Malaysia and Singapore.

On 25 May 2009, again we are seeing evidence that Singaporeans are indeed more prudent with their money now. They are saving more by cooking at home rather than dining out, and spending more on essential grocery items instead of treats like chocolates.

Spending on groceries rises as Singaporeans eat out less

SINGAPORE : A recent survey showed that Singaporeans are turning to home cooked meals and eating out less, due to economic reasons.

Households are now spending an average of 14 per cent more a month on overall expenses compared to last year, in part due to higher food prices.

So more are choosing to eat in to cut down on the high cost of dining out.

...Seven in 10 Singaporeans said that they are altering their spending habits to save more.

They are cutting down on treats like chocolates and carbonated soft drinks, and buy only essentials.

But alas, despite all the effort put into making changes to their lives, despite doing all they could to stay afloat during this economic crisis, they are still being chided. "Mollycoddled", they were called.

We're too mollycoddled

DOES a father of an eight-year- old learning to ride a bike line the streets with cushions so the child will not hurt himself if he falls?

Answering his own question, MP Sam Tan (Tanjong Pagar GRC) felt it is best for the child to take the knocks as they come.

'A boy who is mollycoddled is a very different person from the one who is physically tough and takes spills without fear and whining,' he said on Monday.

This, too, can be the approach in helping Singaporeans during tough times, he told Parliament.

Noting that Singaporeans are continuing to spend amid the recession, he said this was good as it had a multiplier effect. But what concerned him was that they may be spending out of a false sense of security.

Mr Tan also noticed that some citizens - including the elderly who in the past relied on their children - are starting to zoom in on Government help, regarding it as an entitlement:

'Today, many see Government help as an entitlement, something that they should tap on as a first port of call, rather than a last resort,' he observed.

The elderly tell him they want to spare their children the 'burden' of caring for them. But Mr Tan is astonished and dismayed, and sometimes tells the supplicants: 'You should let your children care for you, not the state... because it is the right thing to do.'

Filial piety, he said, is one of the most fundamental values of the human race.

The reality is that the Government is now practised in the craft of 'recession-cushioning', he said as he questioned the true impact of this largesse and efficiency.

Are we missing something somewhere? While AC Nielsen was reporting that Singaporeans are spending less and saving more, MP Sam Tan rebuked them for spending out of a false sense of security. Either the International marketing research company or the honourable MP is wrong. But since you get what you pay for, maybe we should trust the one who is paid more. The MP has to be right.

MP Sam Tan was especially annoyed by the elderly for putting the burden of caring for them on the nation, which is a terribly wrong thing to do especially when they are no longer contributing to the growth of the country's economy. The right thing for them to do, as advised by the MP, is to ask their children to care for them. Even if their children could be jobless and struggling themselves. And for those without a child to rely on, oh well, that's too bad. Regardless, it is not the nation's job to take care of the elderly. Apparently.



  1. you are missing out AMK MP's quote

    “In my interactions in the community, I sense that this has not sunken in for many Singaporeans. Many cling on to a lifestyle that is from a past that is fuelled by a bigger pay packet. They continue to incur debts, living in bigger apartments that one could no longer afford, continuing to incur large utilities and phone bills and unable to see ways to reduce expenditure. Many hold out for the good times to return soon. Lifestyles must change. Singaporeans caught in financial bind must make the hard adjustments. On the other hand, the Government has to make it easier for them - to facilitate their adjustments.”

  2. Ah... good catch! How can I forget this inspiring speech!

  3. On the one hand the government encourages consumers to spend recklessly by allowing the purchase of cars with $0 downpayment and lowering the minimum yearly salary required to own a credit card, on the other hand this idiot is saying that the government should make Singapore be more responsible. Can the government make up their mind what role they want to play...

  4. Thank you for the insightful blogpost. The Singapore Democrats have featured your post in their 'Blogs of the week' section.