KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Malaysians’ fear of inflation and poverty have surpassed their concern about the lingering Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new Ipsos poll.

The market analysis firm reported that 23 per cent of Malaysian respondents were struggling financially while 45 per cent felt they were just getting by, in the survey involving 21,515 adults in 28 countries between May 27 and June 10.

Beyond the fear of slipping into poverty, the proportion of Malaysians saying they were living comfortably now has also dipped to just 29 per cent, compared to the global average of 49 per cent from all countries surveyed.

Aside from concerns about inflation, 59 per cent of Malaysians predicted interest rates to rise further while 39 per cent expected this to further hurt their disposable income.

However, 34 per cent of Malaysian believed that their standard of living would rise, 32 per cent believed that it would remain the same and 28 per cent said that the standard of living is likely to decline.

“Concern about inflation and the cost of living is now widespread, and Malaysians are feeling the squeeze on their personal finances. Widely expected increase in interest rates is preparing four out of 10 Malaysians for lower disposable income in the near future, resulting in a fall in their standard of living. “The squeeze from inflation and rising interest rates is impacting consumers’ willingness to spend — a sharp drop in Malaysians’ comfort with making both household and larger purchases indicate that they may need to prioritise what they choose to spend on in the near term,” said Lars Erik Lie, associate director of Ipsos Public Affairs, in the report.

The report also stated that there had been a steady improvement in consumer purchase intent for major purchases such as homes and automobiles from July 2021, but this appeared to have reversed following a 10-point drop in the last two months.

On what expenses they would cut if the price rises, 45 per cent of Malaysians said they will spend less on socialising and 42 per cent said holidays.

Another 38 per cent said they would delay large purchases while 37 per cent said they would spend less on shopping.

“For many Malaysians, spending on socialising and holidays is the first to be cut with the household budget tightening. Delaying large purchases and reducing household shopping follow, before touching expenses on food or eating into savings,” added Lie.

The survey also showed that 31 per cent of Malaysians are willing to reduce spending on food if price rises and 25 per cent said they would use car and motor vehicles less to save fuel costs.