South Korea’s consumer sentiment in October rose by the fastest pace in nearly 12 years, bouncing back to pre-Covid-19 levels as the country returned to normalcy after the months-long restrictions to curb the renewed virus spread.
The composite consumer sentiment index (CCSI) came in at 91.6 for October, up 12.1 points from the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK) on Wednesday.
This was a sharp rebound from September, when the index turned downward for the first time in five months due to the country’s virus resurgence.
The reading has yet to recover the 100 threshold, meaning more are still pessimistic than optimistic about the economy.
The October figure was the biggest rise since April 2009 and near the 96.6 reading in February this year before the coronavirus outbreak. The index in March had sunk to as low as 70.8, the worst since December 2008.
“The eased social distancing measures from the slowdown in the spread of Covid-19 appear to have improved consumer sentiment,” said Hwang Hee-jin, manager of the statistics research team at BOK.
Korea elevated social distancing measures nationally in mid-August after virus cases surged to three-digit figures. The restrictions were relaxed to their lowest levels on Oct. 12 as new reported daily cases fell to below or around 100.
Expectations for future spending rose by the most, up 8 points in a month, reflecting the pent-up demand for dining, travel and entertainment after the restrictions. Household income forecast also jumped 6 points.
Indexes representing consumer views on the current state of living and future living conditions climbed 5 points and 6 points, respectively.
The index measuring consumer confidence in current economic conditions compared with six months ago surged 16 points from the previous month. The index on the economic outlook six months from now also gained 17 points.
Outlook on housing prices rose 5 points as the government’s latest property stabilization rules further inflamed housing and rental prices.
Consumer outlook on future employment jumped 15 points on the overall optimistic outlook.
Inflation over the past year was perceived to be 1.9 percent, same as the previous month. Expected inflation for the following year edged down 0.1 percentage point to 1.8 percent.
By Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]