Singaporeans Masked Up and Moving Forward

Some improvement in income levels observed yet 3 in 5 Singaporeans are less confident about job security today than 3 months ago

Findings from Ipsos' Survey: Living in Crisis - Masked Up and Moving Forward in Southeast Asia


  • 26% of Singaporeans are worried about contracting COVID-19, the least worried among 6 SEA countries. In contrast with Malaysia at 61% and Philippines at 73% who are very worried.
  • 56% of Singaporeans are less confident today about their job security, the highest observed in the region.
  • 32% of Singaporeans say that the government’s priority should be to protect jobs in the next 6 months; far more than other SEA markets such as Malaysia (20%) or Indonesia (13%)

Singapore, Southeast Asia, 23 Oct 2020 - It is nearly 11 months since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the people of Southeast Asia remain concerned about contracting the virus. Singaporeans are the least worried among the 6 SEA countries surveyed, with 26% who say they are very worried while it is the sentiment of 61% of Malaysians and 73% of Filipinos.

These are the findings from the latest study conducted by global market research company, Ipsos to understand the evolving consumer opinions and behaviours around the COVID-19 crisis. The survey was conducted online, from 18 – 22 September 2020, among a nationally representative sample of 500 adults aged 18 and above, in each of 6 Southeast Asian countries, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Impact on income and outlook

Compared to May 2020 (when the 6 countries were in the middle or are just emerging from the first lockdown), Southeast Asians report an improvement in their household income situation, with Indonesia and the Philippines showing most improvement. In Singapore, the proportion of Singaporeans who report having incomes lower than pre-COVID levels, have decreased from 64% in May to 53% today.

Looking ahead six months from now, 46% of SEA respondents expect the economy in their local area to be stronger, while 31% expect it to be weaker. Among the 6 countries surveyed, Indonesia is the most optimistic with 75% saying that the economy will strengthen in the next 6 months. Singaporeans are considerably more pessimistic with only 28% expecting the local economy to improve.

If there is a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the future, 79% of Singaporeans are worried that the government will reimpose containment measures which would affect their income. However, relative to the region, this is a less pessimistic picture with the region’s average at 89%.

Prasad Shinde, Senior Client Officer at Ipsos in Singapore, comments, “Singaporeans are reassured by the steps taken by the Government in containing the COVID-19 pandemic. They are however more concerned about their job security and feel the Government could do more in this area.”

Compared to 3 months ago, 56% of Singaporeans are less confident about job security for themselves or their families; this is the highest among the SEA countries surveyed which averages at 49%. When asked what the priority for the government in the next 6 months should be, 32% of Singaporeans said protecting jobs; far more than the other SEA countries such as Malaysia (20%) or Indonesia (13%).

Impact on business sectors and product categories

While the outlook on household incomes in Southeast Asia is relatively positive, most are still cautious about a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and are not confident (62%) about making big-ticket purchases such as houses or cars. Singaporeans (69%), Indonesians (69%) and the Filipinos (68%) are most cautious about making large purchases. In contrast, 51% of Vietnamese and 52% of Thais share this sentiment.

In terms of smaller expenses, about 2 in 5 Southeast Asians today are now comfortable visiting restaurants, and more demand can be expected for groceries, personal care items and cleaning products as movement restrictions are gradually lifted. As the crowds at eateries confirm, Singaporeans are most comfortable among the 6 SEA countries to be visiting restaurants (58%) and visiting friends and family at their homes (66%).

When it comes to shopping in general, Singaporeans remain cautious both from a financial as well as a health and safety perspective. 79% Singaporeans say that they are now more mindful of how much they spend when shopping. 63% say they are making fewer trips to the store because of social distancing measures.

There is an increasing demand for digital activities, e-commerce and cashless payment facilities. 43% more SEA respondents are buying more items online, 42% more people are using cashless payments, and 29% more people are streaming more content such as Netflix. Singapore is experiencing adoption of people engaging in e-commerce activity (51%) and making cashless payments (53%). The biggest increase in proportion of people who are streaming more content is in the Philippines at 37%, followed by Singapore at 32%.

Shinde adds, “The COVID pandemic has done more in terms of accelerating adoption level of cashless payments in Singapore and the region. Such habits are likely to persist beyond the pandemic. Most brands and marketers are in the planning stage for their business in 2021 and taking note of these changed habits in their plans for 2021 is important. On another note, it would be interesting to see the impact of the $100 tourism vouchers in Singapore and if that helps in supporting the hugely impacted local tourism sector.”


About the study:

  • Survey period: 18th and 22nd September 2020.
  • Coverage : Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam
  • Sample: N=500 nationally representative sample in a country aged 18 and above (Quotas on age, gender and ethnicity were employed by markets to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects the overall population distribution)
  • Data Collection: Using online methodology
  • The precision of online surveys is measured using a credible interval. In this case, the results reported are accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points of the views and perspectives of all Singaporeans aged 18 and above (at 95% confidence interval). Credible intervals are wider among subsets of the population.