Consumers in Southeast Asia remain the most upbeat globally, but external and domestic fears may be dampening their optimism, according to a new survey by Nielsen.
Home to more than 600 million consumers, the region scored 112 on Nielsen's second-quarter consumer confidence index published on Monday, outperforming the global consumer confidence reading of 96.
Among the top-10 most bullish countries, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam were ranked second, third, fifth and tenth, respectively, in the quarterly survey, which measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and immediate spending intentions, among more than 30,000 respondents in 60 countries.
By comparison, consumer confidence in the rest of Asia-Pacific stood at 107, followed by North America's 101, Africa/Middle East's 94 and Latin America's 83. Europe remains the least optimistic region globally with an overall index of 79. Levels above and below 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.
However, there are "signs of vulnerability" emerging in the region, according to Regan Leggett, Nielsen client service director for Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific.
"We have markets like Philippines, where we're seeing a continued influx of foreign investments and a robust domestic consumption base, [but] in comparison, markets such as Vietnam are starting to face headwinds, such as declining foreign direct investment and a struggling retail environment," Leggett wrote in the report.
Apart from the Philippines, where consumer sentiment rose seven points to reach the country's all-time high of 122, other Southeast Asian countries posted a drop in confidence, with Vietnam falling 8 points from the first quarter to 104, marking the region's biggest quarterly decline.
Malaysia lost 5 points to 89, while Indonesia and Thailand shed 3 points to 120 and 111, respectively, on the back of dimming economic outlook for the coming six months.