Turnover of Indonesian minimarkets has grown sharply. In 2014, the value of sales is expected to jump 13.5 percent to IDR 94 trillion (USD $8.3 billion) compared to this year's projection of IDR 82.9 trillion (USD $7.3 billion). Indonesia's large population (over 240 million) and rapidly urbanizing society gives rise to high demand for nearby shops where people can find their daily needs. In recent years, outlets of minimarkets have been mushrooming in Indonesian cities, particularly on Java. Outside the island of Java, there is still ample room for growth.
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According to a Bank Indonesia report that was released on Monday (19/08), consumer confidence in Indonesia has weakened after the government decided to raise prices of subsidized fuels in June 2013. The country's consumer confidence index fell 8.7 points to 108¹ in July from 117 points in June. Higher fuel prices led to higher transportation costs that subsequently made many retailers increase prices of products, thus impacting on Indonesian households' purchasing power. In July, the annual inflation rate accelerated to 8.61 percent.
The holy fasting month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calender, and subsequent Idul Fitri (or Lebaran) festivities, when many Indonesians go back to their home towns for several days, will arrive soon (on or around 9 July 2013). This annual recurring tradition has some big economic implications as Indonesia's Muslim community increases spending prior and during this period to buy new clothes, shoes, food and drinks as well as transportation fares to travel back to their places of birth.
According to a research report released by the Nielsen Company, Indonesian consumers are currently the world's most optimistic consumers. The report, based on a survey that was conducted between 17 February and 8 March, indicates global consumer confidence in 58 countries. It is interesting to note that countries that scored highest in the survey are mostly from Asia, particularly the Asia Pacific. Indonesia now has a confidence index of 122 points (up five points from Q4-2012).
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In an attempt to boost the sluggish domestic economy by persuading Indonesian consumers to spend more, the central government of Indonesia will exempt several products from the luxury goods sales tax. By law, Indonesia has a tax (ranging between 10 and 50 percent) on goods that are categorized as luxury goods. These products include household items such as televisions, electronics, furniture, refrigerators, washing machines, water heaters as well as cars, motorcycles and property.
The Indonesian economy, from the expenditure side, is highly dominated by domestic demand. From Q1-2010 to Q1-2015, the average role of domestic demand reached 99.5 percent, with the lowest level at 96.8 percent. The positive side of this situation is that the Indonesian economy is relatively resilient to external factors. History shows that despite the US subprime mortgage crisis and financial crisis in Europe, economic growth in Indonesia remained relatively high and consistent compared to other countries.
Starting from 1 September 2013, the minimum down payment for the purchase of a second house or apartment (bigger than 70 m²) in Indonesia will be raised to 40 percent. Indonesia's central bank (Bank Indonesia) implements this new rule to avoid a possible credit bubble in Indonesia's property sector. The country's property sector has been booming in recent years, giving rise to many new property projects, soaring profits for property companies (as well as impressive stock performance) and significantly rising property prices.
In my previous column, I outlined the emergence of a new and promising class of Indonesian consumers that is most likely to bring a positive effect on the country's economic growth in the years ahead. I also pointed out that the level of prosperity of a population is an influential factor towards the state (and future) of democracy in a country: the wealthier a population becomes in terms of per capita GDP, the longer the life expectancy of its democracy will be.
A fresh breeze is blowing on the face of the Indonesian economy. One that is characterized by the projected growth of a new class of Indonesian consumers that seems promising in the years ahead. This new consumer force certainly brings a positive effect on Indonesia's economic growth as domestic consumption has always been a pillar of economic support for the country. Agung Budiono, analyst at Jakarta-based Pol-Tracking Institute, takes a closer look at the topic.
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