Malaysians have become smarter shoppers if the Consumer Price Index survey is anything to go by.
The Statistics Department showed that about 70 per cent of Malaysians now shop for branded clothes, shoes, ties and handbags during mega sales and year-end sales. The remainder buy during off season to avoid the crowd or buy such items due to necessity.
The survey, conducted between January last year and February this year, also showed that consumers wait for handphone prices to drop by 20 to 30 per cent before replacing their old handsets.
An official from the department said most consumers wait for at least six months for a handphone model to be on the shelves before they decide to own one.
"Even though Malaysians are becoming more technology savvy, a majority of them wait for the prices to drop," he said.
Through this shopping pattern, he said Malaysians can save 1.6 per cent of their clothing and footwear budget and 1.8 per cent on new handphones.
Despite this, CPI for the last one year increased by 3.1 per cent to 105.1 compared with that of 101.9 in the corresponding year.
The petrol hike last year had increased consumer spending by 9.3 per cent.
Another contributor to the CPI increase was the hike in vegetable prices. "Some of the vegetables prices shot up three to four times especially during and after the floods." Vegetable prices increased 8.5 per cent. Prices of food also went up; namely fish and seafood (6.6 per cent), rice, bread and other cereals (1.3 per cent) and sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery (1.3 per cent), and fruits (1.1 per cent).
The department carries out monthly consumer price collection for the whole country, covering 135 collection centres, of which 98 are in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah (19) and Sarawak (18).
Other notable increases were in main groups: housing rental, water, electricity and gas, which went up by 1.7 per cent.
Malaysians were also spending more on alcoholic beverages and tobacco (up by 4.9 per cent). They also prefer to eat out as the index showed an increase of 3.4 per cent.
On education, consumers forked out more by 2.2 per cent and health by 1.6 per cent. They spent the least on furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance, which went up by 0.9 per cent and recreation services and culture by 0.2 per cent.