KUALA LUMPUR: Close to 70 per cent of Malaysians are feeling the economic crunch amid the rising inflation, which has been plaguing the country in recent months.
A study by Ipsos, a market search company, revealed that 45 per cent of the respondents were just getting by, while 23 per cent were finding it quite or very difficult to manage their finances.
The rest of the 29 per cent respondents said they were living comfortably or doing okay in the study titled "Malaysians Tighten Their Belts As Inflation Eats Into Income".
Compared with most major economies in Asia and the West, significantly fewer Malaysians could say they are living comfortably these days.
The study said inflation and poverty were the main concerns among Malaysians nowadays as the country's Covid-19 situation began to stabilise.
The respondents revealed that they were likely to spend less on leisure activities as steep prices meant they could no longer afford their normal lifestyles.
Forty-five per cent said they would scale back on expenses put aside for socialising, while 42 per cent said they would be thrifty when it comes to going on holidays.
Some 31 per cent of them said they would spend less on food, while 25 per cent of them said they would use their vehicles less to save on fuel costs.
The study also revealed that Malaysians were prepared to delay larger purchases rather than cutting the budget for necessities, which mirrored the global sentiment.
As for interest rates, 59 per cent said it was expected to rise or stay the same, while 39 per cent felt their disposable income would shrink.
Some 60 per cent said their standard of living would either stay the same or decline, while 34 per cent others said it would rise.
The study stated that there had been a steady improvement in consumer purchase intent for households or major purchases such as houses and automobiles from July last year.
However, purchase intent had dropped 10 points over the last two months.
Ipsos Public Affairs associate director Lars Erik Lie said Malaysians were 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 are impacting consumers' willingness to spend. There is a sharp drop in Malaysians' comfort with making both household and larger purchases, indicating that they may need to prioritise what they choose to spend on in the near term.
"For many Malaysians, spending on socialising and holidays is the first to be cut with the household budget tightening. Next is delaying large purchases and reducing household shopping, as well as managing food expenses."