Consumer confidence in North America dropped one index point in the fourth quarter, but it rose a robust 11 points from the previous year. Within the region, U.S. consumer confidence decreased two index points in the fourth quarter to a score of 106—representing the first decline in 2014, but a 12-point improvement from the previous year. Though confidence also declined in Canada in the fourth quarter, falling one point to an index level of 102 from the previous quarter, it was two points higher than it was in fourth-quarter 2013. Even with the slight dip as the year ended, confidence in both the U.S. and Canada has increased 22 points since the Great Recession, underscoring massive recoveries.
While all U.S. consumer confidence indicators decreased slightly in the fourth quarter, there were significant year-over-year improvements: Job prospect confidence increased 13 percentage points to 50%, personal finance confidence increased six percentage points to 64% and the percentage of respondents who believe now is a good time to spend increased nine percentage points to 52%.
“Despite the most recent declines in the U.S. for job prospects and personal finances, consumers appear to be more upbeat than in other regions going into 2015,” said Louise Keely, senior vice president, Nielsen and president, The Demand Institute. “Declining unemployment, falling oil prices and the continued low interest rates place consumers in the world’s largest economy in a better position to spend than in recent years."
In the region, consumers were largely conservative with their spare cash, as quarter-on-quarter discretionary spending intentions decreased five percentage points for buying new clothes (27%) and four percentage points for spending on out-of-home entertainment (18%). Those planning to save for retirement also declined six percentage points to 13%. Four-in-10 respondents plan to put money into savings accounts, down from 42% the previous quarter.
Other findings from the latest Consumer Confidence report include:
For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q4 2014 Global Consumer Confidence Report.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Nov. 10-28, 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 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.