Expectations for the year to come are high across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the latest Middle East and North Africa Consumer Confidence Index Survey, conducted by Bayt.com, the Middle East's number one job site, and YouGov, a research and consulting organization, revealed.
In a copy of the survey send to the Saudi Gazette, it noted that in Saudi Arabia, respondents forecast a better financial climate and economy, with improved business conditions and more jobs available.
Respondents from Saudi Arabia feel that their current personal financial situation has mostly improved (38 percent). Feelings toward the country's economy are mostly neutral (33 percent), and it is considered to be a neutral time to buy according to 42 percent. Contrary to this, 40 percent of respondents state that business conditions are positive, and 34 percent state that there are "plenty" of jobs available.
While 44 percent of respondents in the Kingdom believe that there are more employees in their company now than there were at this time last year; 46 percent claim that there are the same or fewer. The majority (56 percent) state that their salary has not kept pace with the cost of living.
For the year to come, expectations are high, as ever. More than half (60 percent) believe that their personal financial situation will improve. Also expected to improve are the country's economy (49 percent), business conditions (54 percent) and employment conditions, with 40 percent stating there will be more jobs available.
Job satisfaction in Saudi Arabia is considered to be mostly neutral to low, with only 21 percent believing that the career prospects in their current job are high, while 31 percent state that the opportunities for career growth are low. The majority (63 percent) claim neutral to low satisfaction with their job security, and almost half (45 percent) are unhappy with their current compensation.
Over 36 percent of respondents in the Kingdom anticipate no change in the number of employees at their current company in the coming three months, with 39 percent being "neutral" with the prospect of keeping up with staffing requirements.
Respondents anticipate a mostly neutral-to-negative impact vis-a-vis the cost of living (according to 59 percent). They also believe that accommodation costs will rise (stated by 33 percent).
In the next 12 months, 38 percent of respondents in the Kingdom are considering purchasing a vehicle; of these, 57 percent will buy new. Within the same timeframe, 27 percent will consider buying property, 66 percent of whom will purchase a new property.
The three most popular consumer purchases for the next six months will be furniture (27 percent); desktop or laptop computers (26 percent) and LCD or plasma televisions (22 percent).
In general across the MENA region, feelings for respondents' personal situations at the present time are neutral. Only 28 percent claim that their financial situation is better than last year, compared to 65 percent who state that it has either remained the same or declined. National economies are considered to be worse than last year, according to 33 percent of respondents. Consumer behavior (41 percent of respondents say that now is a "bad time to buy" is likely impacting business conditions which are neutral to bad, as stated by 65 percent.
In terms of employment, almost half of the respondents (49 percent) claim that there are "very few jobs available". Six out of 10 say that their company has either the same or fewer employees than this time 12 months ago, and two thirds (65 percent) believe that their salaries have not kept pace with the cost of living.
However, respondents appear to be optimistic for the upcoming year. The majority believe that their personal financial situation (51 percent), country's economy (44 percent), business conditions (49 percent) and employment conditions (35 percent) will improve.
"Retaining a positive outlook for the year to come will be pivotal to the region's success. Conditions may not be considered to be entirely favorable at the present time, but there are plenty of signs that the months to come will prove beneficial for all," said Suhail Masri, Vice President of Sales, Bayt.com. "Bayt.com gathers vital information from pertinent cross-sections of MENA society, to provide in-depth insights into the feelings, behavior and trends happening in recruitment and business around the region."
Satisfaction with career prospects in the region at present is low, according to 39 percent of respondents, while 38 percent state that it is "neutral". Three quarters of respondents (74 percent) also claim that the prospect for career growth in their current organization is neutral to low.
Job security is seen to be an issue by 67 percent, with only one in four (27 percent) claiming their job security is "high", and satisfaction with compensation is neutral to low, according to 84 percent.
With regards to employment, 24 percent of companies expect to increase employees in the coming three months. A further 61 percent are either neutral or pessimistic about growth potential vis-a-vis the number of employees in their organization. The sentiment toward keeping up with staffing requirements is neutral, according to four out of ten respondents (37 percent), however 19 percent cite optimism.
The outlook for inflation is negative, with 38 percent believing there will be a rise in the cost of living. Similarly, 36 percent believe the cost of real estate is still creating a feeling of negativity across the region.
In the next 12 months 29 percent of respondents are planning to purchase a vehicle. Of these, 51 percent will buy new. Moreover, one in five (21 percent) are considering investing in property, with 65 percent of them planning to buy new.
The five most popular consumer purchases in the next six months will be desktop or laptop computers (25 percent); furniture (20 percent); LCD or plasma television (18 percent); air conditioners (16 percent) and digital cameras (13 percent).
"Consumer habits have remained somewhat stable in the past year, with the same five product categories continually topping the list. Computers are always a favorite purchase across the board, and technology in general seems to consistently be the best-selling consumer goods category," said Sundip Chahal, CEO, YouGov.
The Saudi Gazette