consumer spending-drop

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- A majority of South Korean consumers reduced their expenditures in February from a year earlier mainly due to price instability, a poll showed Tuesday.

The survey of 500 local households in February taken by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) found that 57 percent of the respondents said that they cut back on their spending during the period, while only 12 percent increased their expenditures.

The main reason for the drop in spending was price instability cited by 46 percent of the households polled, trailed by an economic downturn with 27.7 percent, a fall in household income with 18.2 percent and increased household debts with 1.8 percent.

"Consumers picked a rise in prices as the key reason for a drop in their spending as consumers feel the price level is high due to a hike in costs of farm produce, rent and public utility rates despite the country's relatively stable consumer prices," the KCCI said.

South Korea's consumer price index rose 1.4 percent on-year in February, compared with a 1.5 percent on-year advance in the previous month, with the growth rate staying in the 1-percent range for the fourth straight month.

The survey also found that cultural spending, including eating-out expenses, fell during the period, while expenditures for living, including food expenses and housing costs, increased.

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