Consumer's card spending has remained solid during the year 2013 and has shown growth above 10 percent, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) report said Saturday.
The weekly concised report said that even though the year-on-year growth in point of sale (POS) transaction slowed to 17.4 percent in 2Q13 compared to the first quarter yet it remained relatively strong.
Unlike previous years, 2013 has not seen any major public sector salary hikes which could boost household income. As such, the fundamentals behind spending have softened, but remain largely supported by solid employment growth and consumer borrowing.
The report said that growth in consumer and installment debt stabilized at 18 percent through September, with outstanding debt reaching KD 7.96 billion. As expected, the pace of growth has tapered off as household have become relatively more extended. The sector's borrowing could receive a boost from the Family Fund which will alleviate the debt burdens of some borrowers.
Consumer confidence has moderated somewhat since the start of 2013, though at 114 the level is still relatively high. In September, Araa's consumer confidence index was still over 7 percent higher than it was a year ago. This moderate confidence was largely due to a drop in consumer's perceptions of their employment prospects and durable goods purchases.
By contrast, consumer's outlooks for their own incomes and general economic conditions held up relatively well.
The report also noted that Kuwaiti employment growth has seen a slight pickup in 2013 following a moderating trend last year. Aggregate Kuwaiti employment saw year-on-year growth accelerate slightly to 3.3 percent from 2.8 percent at the end of 2012. Skilled expat job growth was also stronger during the first half of 2013.
Though travel activity has seen a slowing in growth during the last few months, it has improved over a year ago. In September, the total number of passengers arriving and departing from Kuwait's international airport was up by 4.5 percent against last year's 3.3 percent.
The report expects consumer spending growth to remain healthy through 2013 and into 2014 albeit at a slowing pace, supported by healthy employment conditions and robust consumer confidence. Household borrowing will continue to see healthy growth though we expect the pace to moderate somewhat by the end of 2013.
Stronger non-oil GDP growth in 2014 should also boost private sector hiring among both Kuwaitis and skilled expats, providing further impetus to the household sector, the report speculated.