Survey Shows the Enduring Impact of the Fifth Wave of the Pandemic and Rising Concerns Over Inflation

  • Impact of the fifth wave of the pandemic persists, with 81% reporting their household income stayed the same or decreased over the past three months
  • Consumers less confident than at any time during the fifth wave
  • Concerns over inflation reach all time high for survey
  • TransUnion believes consumers can take simple steps to improve financial standing, such as monitoring credit report regularly and managing credit portfolio actively

Global information and insights company and Hong Kong’s leading consumer credit reference agency TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) today announced the latest results from its quarterly Consumer Pulse Survey. It shows that the financial impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is being sustained, with 81% of Hong Kong consumers reporting their household income stayed the same or decreased over the past three months. The majority of consumers (95%) also said they are concerned about the current rate of inflation, which has resulted in more than half (57%) of all respondents saying they are going to make changes in their purchasing behavior.

The 2022 Q2 Consumer Pulse Study surveyed 1,006 Hong Kong consumers between May 26 – June 15, 2022.

Worries Over Inflation Influencing Consumers’ Decision-Making amid the Sustained Financial Impact of the Pandemic

Consumers are feeling less confident than at any time during the fifth wave of the pandemic in Hong Kong and lower than during recovery periods of previous waves since Q2 2021. Less than a quarter (22%) of respondents felt their household finances were better than planned at the point when the survey was taken – this was significantly less than previous quarters. The percentage of consumers who felt optimistic about their household finances in the coming 12 months also dropped to just under a third (32%) in Q2 2022. Concerns over inflation are also at an all-time high since first asking the question in Q3 2021 (95% in Q2 2022)1.

More than half of respondents (55%) said they cut back or cancelled household spending in the past three months, while most respondents (77%) said they are not planning to increase discretionary personal spending in the coming quarter, an increase from the end of 2021. Examples of discretionary spending provided to respondents included dining out and travel.

“The financial impact of the fifth wave of the pandemic on household incomes is certainly not going away. However, over and above this, there is an interplay with growing concerns over inflation rates. This is likely being triggered by the broader macro-environment and happenings in global financial markets such as the Fed rate hike alongside local increases in things like petrol prices which are already being felt,” said Eric Cheung, Senior Director and Head of Solution Consulting of TransUnion Asia Pacific. “There are financial boosters coming such as the disbursement of another phase of consumption vouchers in the city, it’s crucial to keep abreast of the macro economy which is also shaping consumers’ evolving needs as well as their risk and credit profiles.”

Consumers Value Credit and Lending Products but Don’t Believe They Have Sufficient Access

Associated with concerns around their financial stability, despite 95% saying it’s important to have access to credit and lending products to achieve financial goals, only 44% agreed they currently have sufficient. Meanwhile, only 58% of consumers said they believe they would be approved for a credit or lending product if they needed one.

Cheung added, “The latest survey presents the financial inclusion situation in Hong Kong, as a significant portion of consumers feel they do not have sufficient access to credit or loan products, and think they would not be approved for credit and loan applications. The best antidote for this is for consumers to manage credit proactively to help improve their credit ratings. This is the key that unlocks access to the financial products they need.”

TransUnion’s research is being updated regularly on its Consumer Pulse Study web page as the company continues to support consumers and businesses around the globe. 

1. Q1 2022: 92%; Q4 2021: 90%; Q3 2021: 94%