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Mon 5 Mar 2012 06:24 PM

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Only 1 in 4 in MENA say better off than a year ago

Regional consumer confidence survey paints gloomy picture of personal finances

Only 1 in 4 in MENA say better off than a year ago
Middle East shopping, Middle East retail, GCC retail

Only one in four people in the Middle East believe they are better off now compared to a year ago, a survey published on Monday has showed.

The Consumer Confidence Index survey conducted by Bayt.com and YouGov has shown that the overall sentiment in the region was currently less than positive.

However, optimism for the year to come remains comparatively high, it added.

Overall, only 26 percent of respondents believed that their personal financial situation is better now than it was this time last year, and only 25 percent felt optimistic about the current economy of their country.

the survey said 37 percent considered the current environment as bad for business, while 43 percent stated that now was a "bad time" to buy consumer durables.

In terms of employment, almost half of respondents (49 percent) claimed that there are "very few jobs" available.

However, of those who are currently employed, 26 percent said  their company has more employees than at the same time last year.

Two thirds of respondents said they believed that their salaries have not kept pace with the cost of living.

On the positive side, more than half (52 percent) of MENA respondents believed that their personal finances will become better in a year's time.

All nationalities covered in the survey said they expected that business conditions will improve over the next year.

Inflation continues to generate a negative outlook across the board, with the cost of real estate being of concern in all countries.

Only 23 percent of respondents said they were optimistic about the future growth of their companies in terms of employees, with all countries sharing a neutral opinion about their companies being able to keep up with staffing demands.

Suhail Masri, vice-president of sales at Bayt.com, said: "The appraisal of the current situation is subdued across the board, in terms of economy, commerce and employment.

"This sentiment is echoed in most countries, however there is a considerably more positive outlook for the near future as people look forward to improved conditions all around."

Sundip Chahal, CEO at YouGov, added: "Given the current climate in the Middle East and, to an extent, globally, it is to be expected that sentiments for the present are low and that there is hope for a more positive future."

Data for the quarterly survey was collected online from January 30 to February 14 2012, with 9,324 respondents covering GCC Arab, North African, Levant, Western expat and Asian nationalities.

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