Global Consumer Confidence Measures at 93, Up Two Points from Q4 2012;
55 Percent of Total Markets Surveyed Report Higher Confidence Levels,
Up from 33 Percent in Previous Quarter
New York – May 1, 2013 – Global consumer confidence indexed at 93 in the first quarter of 2013, as key economies in North America, Asia, and northern and central Europe reported improvements in economic sentiments, according to consumer confidence findings from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. The measure of 93 is one point lower than the index in Q1 2012 (94) and two points higher than it measured in Q4 2012 (91).
“Economic perceptions signaled positive momentum as global job prospects, personal finances, and spending intentions cautiously edged up in Q1 2013,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen. “Encouraged by positive signs in the U.S. economy and moderately steady performance in China, consumer confidence in developed Asian economies rebounded strongly last quarter, as Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan posted double-digit confidence increases.”
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns, and spending intentions among more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism. In the latest round of the survey, conducted February 18–March 8, 2013, consumer confidence rose in 55 percent of global markets measured by Nielsen, compared to a 33 percent increase reported in Q4 2012.
Consumer confidence increased in several key economies, including the U.S. (93), which increased four points over the previous quarter and one point since Q1 2012; Germany (90), up three points since the last quarter; and Japan (73), up 14 points since Q4 2012 and 15 points since the same quarter last year. China held steady from Q4 2012 at 108 (-2 from Q1 2012).
While global economic sentiment showed improvement in Q1 2013, Nielsen’s index indicated that many global respondents believed a full economic recovery was not in sight, as half (51%) said they believed that the recession would last for at least another year. More than half of global respondents (56%) said they were in a recession in Q1, an improvement from 59 percent the previous quarter and 62 percent from six months ago.
Nevertheless, on average, across all countries in the survey, every confidence indicator increased in Q1 2013, compared with the previous quarter. Forty-seven percent of global respondents were optimistic about job prospects over the next 12 months, an increase of two percentage points from Q4 2012, 54 percent were confident in their personal finances (+1), and 36 percent were ready to spend (+2).
North America (94) reported the biggest quarter-on-quarter regional consumer confidence rise of four points in Q1, followed by Asia Pacific (103), which increased two index points. Consumer confidence declines were reported in the Middle East/Africa region (85), which decreased 11 index points since Q4 2012 and in Latin America (94), which declined two index points from the previous quarter.
Europe’s regional consumer confidence index of 71 held steady from Q4 2012. At the end of last year, consumer confidence fell in 20 of 29 European markets. In Q1, the opposite trend was reported, as consumer confidence rose in 18 of 29 markets.
“We suspect that fears of the European debt crisis spreading beyond recession-stricken southern European countries may have eased in the first quarter,” said Dr. Bala. “However, weak labor market conditions in troubled economies, including Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, and the recent Cyprus financial crisis are further indications of the fragile state of the European economy, which continue to hinder a full recovery in the region.”
North America led the global regions for spending intentions over the next 12 months. Forty-two percent of North American respondents said they plan to spend on discretionary items during the year—a six-point increase from Q4 2012. Respondents in the region reported marginal increases in discretionary spending intentions for the home, vacations, and entertainment expenses.
"Buoyed by a nascent revival of the U.S. housing market and strengthening employment conditions, Americans demonstrated an eagerness to spend again,” said Dr. Bala. “However, higher payroll taxes and the effect of government budget cuts coupled with volatility in job hiring and sluggish personal disposable income continue to impact U.S. households, which will make continued growth an ongoing challenge.”
Hong Kong reported the biggest index increase since Q1 2012, gaining 23 points to 108; Egypt saw the biggest decline, decreasing 20 points to 74. Indonesia reported the highest consumer confidence index at 122, a five-point increase from Q4 2012. Portugal reported the lowest index at 33.
Double-digit consumer confidence declines were reported in Egypt (-20) and Saudi Arabia (-16), compared to Q4 2012. Pakistan declined seven index points to a score of 87, and United Arab Emirates dropped five index points to 108, which was the highest index reported in the region. Consumer confidence in South Africa increased two index points to 78, and Israel rose one point to a score of 91.
Consumer confidence in Latin America decreased two percentage points from Q4 2012 with an index of 94, reflecting double-digit confidence declines in Colombia (-15) and Venezuela (-12).
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted between February 18–March 8, 2013, and polled more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers, and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%.
This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60-percent Internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion. The China Consumer Confidence Index is compiled from a separate mixed methodology survey among 3,500 respondents in China. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows, and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.