We show with this chart — based on our proprietary data — that the shine is coming off that story as weaker economic growth crimps discretionary spending. Yet there are also pockets where discretionary spending is not only holding up — but is rising. 

In Indonesia, the biggest of the so-called Asean-5 economies, respondents living in Batam, a city in the eastern Riau islands, are confident about their discretionary spending. That is probably due to their proximity to Singapore and the spillover effect of tourism from the city-state, as well as a government decision last year to upgrade Batam to special economic zone status to speed up development. 

In Malaysia, things look brighter in Kajang, a town in eastern Selangor which is the terminus for a new 51-kilometre train line from the affluent Sungai Buloh township to the east. Spending on this large infrastructure project has probably helped lift economic prospects — and thus discretionary spending levels. 

In the Philippines, the rapidly industrialising province of Cavite — 21km south of metro Manila — is also bucking the regional trend. Cavite is attracting business process outsourcing investment as the area in and around Manila becomes crowded.

— Ben Heubl, Data Visualisation Analyst

FT Confidential Research is an independent research service from the Financial Times, providing in-depth analysis of and statistical insight into China and Southeast Asia. Our team of researchers in these key markets combine findings from our proprietary surveys with on-the-ground research to provide predictive analysis for investors.

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