SYDNEY: APRIL 30, 2014: Global consumer confidence returned to a pre-recession level in the first quarter of 2014 —the highest score since first-quarter 2007 while Australia dropped to its lowest score on record, according to the latest consumer confidence survey from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.
The global index score of 96 represents a two-point increase from fourth-quarter 2013 and a three-point increase from a year ago (Q1 2013). The Nielsen consumer confidence index measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and immediate spending intentions. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively.
Consumer confidence in Australia (89 points) declined six index points in the first quarter, the lowest score on record since Nielsen began measuring consumer confidence in 2005. More than two in five Australians (44%) felt mired in recession—up from 31 percent in fourth-quarter 2013.
Chris Percy, Managing Director, Nielsen Pacific commented that recent announcements of significant cost reduction and off-shoring activities in the manufacturing sector in the back of 2013 and in the first quarter of 2014 has likely impacted Australians’ overall confidence levels in the country’s economic outlook. “These latest results reflect Australians’ increasing concern around job prospects and the perception of the state of their personal finances,” said Percy.
Three-in-five (61%) Australians are concerned about their job prospects over the next 12 months, up 13 percentage points from quarter four and up 10 points from quarter one last year. Close to half (46%) of Australian respondents regarded the state of their personal finances to be ominous, up seven percentage points from Q4 2013.
The Nielsen findings revealed that Aussie consumers are future-proofing their assets in line with this sentiment shift, with increases across discretionary spend categories measured such as home improvement projects (+7 percentage points), putting spare cash into retirement funds (+7pp) and investing in shares of stocks and mutual funds (+2pp).
“While consumers are being smart with any discretionary spend and investing for the future or paying off debt, we are still seeing an increase in consumers who say they don’t have any spare cash (now one-in-five or 19%) – this has nearly doubled since Q1 2010. Consumers are cautious about their current ability to spend, therefore product offerings which meet consumers’ needs remains the key opportunity,” added Percy.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns, and spending intentions among more than 30,000 respondents with Internet access in 60 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively. In the latest round of the survey, conducted February 17 – March 7, 2014, consumer confidence increased in 60 percent of markets measured by Nielsen—up from 43 percent the previous quarter (Q4 2013).
Consumer confidence in Asia-Pacific increased in eight of 14 markets in the first quarter, was flat in three and declined in three. The region’s biggest quarterly index increase was six points, in both India (121) and Hong Kong (111). India’s index rise returns the score to a fourth-quarter 2012 level after several quarters of declining performance. Consumer confidence in the Philippines (116) and Thailand (108), as well as Indonesia (124) and China (111), were among the highest index scores of 60 countries measured.
ABOUT THE NIELSEN GLOBAL SURVEY
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Feb. 17 – March 7, 2014, and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 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 its 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 only on the behaviour of respondents with online access. 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 and mobile measurement. 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.
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