New Zealand consumer confidence started 2015 with an index score of 102 —an increase of one point from fourth-quarter 2014 and an increase of two points from a year-ago. New Zealand remained ahead of both Australia (95) and Global (97) confidence.
The Nielsen consumer confidence index measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and immediate spending intentions. For job sentiment, 59% of New Zealand respondents said local job prospects were good or excellent, a four percentage point increase from Q4 2014. Personal finances also improved with 62% having positive perceptions of their finances, up from 59% in the previous quarter. Whether it is a good time to buy things over the next 12 months remained at 44%.
New Zealanders discretionary spending intentions remained steady or increased in the first quarter across lifestyle categories measured. About three-in-10 respondents (29%) planned to spend on holidays. One-in-five New Zealanders planned to spend on new clothes (21%), out of home entertainment (20%) and new technology products (19%).
New Zealand saving intentions also increased, about half New Zealand respondents planned to bank their spare cash (49%), a third intended to pay credit cards and debt (34%) while 16% said they had no spare cash, down from 22% the previous quarter.
Nick Tuffley’s ASB’s Chief Economist said, “The outlook for the economy remains solid. Perceptions of personal finances will have been boosted by the relatively low level of fuel prices relative to 2014 and the ongoing falls in term mortgage rates that are reducing borrowers’ debt-servicing costs. Jobs growth has been solid over the past year. But there will be some added caution in dairying areas about the continued softness in dairy prices, which may be contributing to the added intentions to channel any spare cash into savings or debt reduction”.
Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively.
Among the world’s largest economies, consumer confidence increased most in Japan, rising nine points to 82 in the first quarter, which was the country’s highest score since 2005—the start of Nielsen’s consumer confidence index measurement. Germany also reached a milestone: Sentiment increased two points to reach the baseline score of 100. Confidence also increased one point in the U.S. (107), three points in the U.K. (97) and three points in France (60). Conversely, confidence in China decreased one point to 106 from fourth-quarter 2014.
In the latest online survey, conducted Feb. 23 - March 13, 2015, consumer confidence increased in 37 of 60 markets measured by Nielsen (61%), compared with 17 of 60 markets (28%) in the previous quarter. India’s score of 130, the highest score among 60 markets, was one point higher than in fourth-quarter 2014, followed by Indonesia (123), the Philippines (115) and the United Arab Emirates (115). Italy (57) showed the biggest quarterly improvement, as confidence rose 12 points from fourth-quarter 2014. The Ukraine reported the lowest score of 41, a quarterly decline of 11 points—the biggest decline in the survey.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Feb. 23 - March 13, 2015 and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America including 500 New Zealanders. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The China Consumer Confidence Index is compiled from a separate mixed methodology survey among 3,500 respondents in China. The sub-Saharan African countries in this study are compiled from a separate mobile methodology survey among 1,600 respondents in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.