Business Standard

‘Household spending may grow 6.7% in ’24 on mild inflation, income surge’


Supported by growing domestic demand, a low unemployme­nt rate, moderating inflation and an expected recovery in internatio­nal tourism, the real household spending in India is expected to grow by 6.7 per cent in 2024, up from 5.7 per cent estimated in 2023, according to a report released on Thursday by BMI Research, a unit of Fitch Solutions.

The report notes the growth in consumer spending in 2024 is expected to come as the wider Indian economy recovers and growth figures return to a more stable medium-term trajectory.

“The domestic economy will grow by a real rate of 6.7 per cent in 2024, an improvemen­t from the 6.5 per cent in 2023. Although inflationa­ry pressures have remained elevated, inflation is moderating and strong showings in real income growth for Indian consumers will give greater propensity for household spending growth,” it said.

The report also notes that the current situation index (CSI) and future expectatio­ns index (FEI) are above their pre-pandemic levels (at 89.4 and 118.0 respective­ly), suggesting that consumer spending on big-ticket items will be more likely as the economic and health situation in the market continue to stabilise.

The household debt has been steadily decreasing (40.3 per cent in Q2 of 2023) from its accelerati­on during Covid-19 when households took on debt to support themselves.

“These levels are still relatively low and pose little threat to our consumer outlook for the market. We do note that increasing interest rates over the medium term (20242028) will increase debt servicing costs for households with debt, which are typically higher-income households in India. This means that households will increasing­ly have to allocate disposable income towards debt financing, placing downward pressure on their consumer spending going forward,” the report notes.

The report also expects the Indian rupee to appreciate against the US currency, which for Indian consumers will provide further tailwinds to consumer spending growth as imports will become cheaper.

“We believe this backdrop will significan­tly mean that consumer spending over 2024 will remain stable,” it says.

Besides, the Indian unemployme­nt rate is expected to remain unchanged at 7 per cent of the labour force in 2024 from the 2023 levels.

“As of January 2024, unemployme­nt in India decreased to 6.8 per cent, the lowest rate of unemployme­nt since September 2022. This rate of unemployme­nt remains manageable in India and while inflation continues to moderate, the main drivers are elevated food and housing costs as opposed to wages. However, we note that should economic conditions worsen in the market, there is a risk of elevated unemployme­nt, which will quickly feed through into a weaker consumer outlook,” the report noted.

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