ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Around 42% of consumers grapple to pay bills on time

Financial pressure amongst Hongkongers remains intense, following several waves of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some 42% of Hong Kong consumers heavily affected by the pandemic are grappling to pay their bills or loans. They have told the latest Consumer Pulse Survey, by TransUnion, that they expect to be unable to settle their expenses over the coming four weeks.

In the study, TransUnion found 78% of the respondents said their household income has been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

This was higher than the 69% recorded in its November report, just when the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections started.

Of those negatively affected, 72% have disclosed concern over their ability to pay their current bills or loans in full; whilst 42% said they will not be able to pay in less than four weeks.

“Our latest survey shows that while financial hardship continues to worsen, Hong Kong consumers continue to face their burden with a pragmatic attitude,” Francis Lau, director of research and consulting, Asia Pacific, TransUnion said.

“They are employing multiple approaches including spending less, saving more, and cancelling subscriptions or digital services to keep afloat during the pandemic.”

The survey reported 66% of respondents cut back on discretionary spending. Around 29% cancelled or reduced their subscriptions or memberships, and 28% have cut back their spending on digital services.

Looking forward, 52% of all respondents expect to decrease discretionary personal spending, and 49% of them say they will decrease large purchases such as appliances and cars in the next three months.

Further, amongst the strategies of Hong Kong consumers are drawing from their savings (44%), borrowing money from a friend or family member (41%), and taking out personal loans (27%).

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