Malaysians are planning to spend nine per cent more this year on Lunar New Year festivities, according to the annual United Overseas Bank (Malaysia) Bhd (UOB Malaysia) Lunar New Year Survey.
Of their average Lunar New Year budget of RM4,201 (up from RM3,846 in 2016), respondents said they will allocate RM1,008 to food, an increase of 14 per cent over last year. This is despite the higher cost of food this year. Forty-three per cent of this amount will go towards celebrating a traditional reunion dinner with loved ones.
Travelling to be with loved ones is also an important focus for the Lunar New Year. Respondents travelling overseas say they expect to spend an average of RM2,334, up seven per cent from a year ago (RM2,181) while those visiting family and friends within Malaysia expect to spend RM1,263, up 66 per cent from 2016.
Julia Goh, Economist, UOB Malaysia said the larger food and travel budgets could be because consumers are not compromising on Lunar New Year traditions despite higher cost of living pressures.
“On top of the higher price of staples such as sugar, vegetable oils and dairy products due to the increase in global food prices and the weaker ringgit, we are expecting a seasonal increase of up to 50 per cent on some food items because of the Lunar New Year,” Ms Goh said.
“However, feasting on food and travelling to visit friends and family are central to the way Malaysians bond with one another, especially during festive occasions such as the Lunar New Year. It is therefore not surprising that Malaysians continue to place a priority on such celebrations despite the economic environment,” Ms Goh said.
While respondents are prepared to spend more this Lunar New Year, the majority of those receiving red packets said they intend to save the money (73 per cent), while 25 per cent said they will invest it. More than 90 per cent of respondents receiving red packets on behalf of their children will deposit the money into their child’s savings account.