Consumer confidence in Barbados is shaky.
Furthermore, Bajans are very pessimistic about the economic future.
These findings are coming out of a pre-Budget study of over 1,000 persons by University of the West Indies Management Studies lecturer Dwayne Devonish.
Examining five major areas of consumer confidence, namely past and expected changes in personal (income) finances of consumers; attitudes towards business conditions (i.e. the growth and success of businesses) in the local economy; attitudes towards price increases and unemployment rate; attitudes towards buying conditions in the country, and confidence in government economic policies, the findings were not very optimistic.
“The results from the survey demonstrate that Barbadian consumers are very pessimistic regarding the economic environment in Barbados, especially in areas of prices and buying conditions, business conditions, unemployment, and government policy. However, this survey was conducted prior to the budget proposal of August 13th, 2013 and does not capture consumers’ confidence with respect to economic policies emerging from that budget event,” Devonish summarised.
He nevertheless indicated: “I believe that the findings presented here (although expected and others would say obvious) provide a scientific body of evidence from which those managing the country can benefit.”
Specific indices related to consumer perceptions in the areas of personal finance, business and economic conditions, revealed largely negative findings.
“In all areas of consumer confidence, there were predominantly pessimistic attitudes among Barbadian consumers, given that 50 percent or higher reported a negative outlook on current and future personal finances, current and future local business conditions, current buying conditions, and general economic conditions for the next five years…,” the study stated.
Fifty-eight per cent of respondents had a negative view of their current financial situation compared to 10 per cent who responded positively; while 50 per cent forecast that a year hence their finances would still be negative, compared to a slight rise to 14 per cent for those who thought it would be better.
In the outlook on business conditions, 66 per cent thought it currently negative, with 10 per cent seeing it as positive, compared to predictions of 62 per cent and 13 per cent respectively a year from now. Currently buying conditions were 55 per cent in the red with a general outlook on economic conditions five years from now likewise recording an overly negative forecast of 60 per cent.
Prices and unemployment also received negative ratings of 61 and 65 per cent respectively, while an overwhelming 44 per cent of Barbadians felt Government and its policies were performing only fairly.
“When asked about the performance of government and its economic policies, a very small proportion (13 per cent) highlighted that the government was doing a good job, whereas 33 per cent reported that they were doing a poor job, and a larger proportion (44 per cent) rated the government’s performance as only fair.” (LB)