China’s online shoppers set confident example

Stephan Shakespeare
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THE British online consumer is as negative about the domestic economic outlook for the next twelve months as the Chinese online consumer is positive, according to Bloomberg/YouGov’s Household Economic Activity Tracker (Heat).

Fifty-four per cent of Chinese respondents to Bloomberg/YouGov’s online poll of consumers answered that they expected their household financial situation to improve over the next twelve months, compared with 20 per cent of British people polled. In fact, a majority (51 per cent) of British consumers expected their household financial situation to get worse over the coming year, while only 14 per cent of Chinese feared the same.

These contrasting attitudes were consistent with each nation’s expectations on the future value of its homes. Chinese homeowners are much more bullish – with homeowners expecting the price of their dwelling to increase six per cent over the next 12 months versus UK homeowners who each believe their homes will fall three per cent in value over the same period.

More striking is the uniformity of opinion in China. In the UK, 54 per cent of homeowners expect prices to fall versus 34 per cent expecting an increase (net -20); China, though, sees 84 per cent expecting an increase versus seven per cent expecting a decrease. The 12-to-1 difference of opinion in China gives a reason for pause. The near-unanimity among China’s consumers prompts speculation that China’s real estate surge is peaking. Prices rose nearly 50 per cent in Beijing since 2006, and the government introduced China’s first home-ownership tax in the cities of Chongqing and Shanghai on 28 January.

Bloomberg//YouGov interviewed online consumers across the UK and China during December and January (a representative sample of internet users were interviewed in each) on a broad range of macroeconomic and microeconomic behaviour. Results were weighted to both online populations to make them comparable.

Stephan Shakespeare is founder and chief executive of YouGov.