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Recession-Battered Europe Showed Signs of Recovery
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Recession-Battered Europe Showed Signs of Recovery

Europe’s most troubled economies reported good news in the third quarter, as consumer confidence increased in Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain, according to Nielsen’s latest Global Survey of Consumer Confidence.

Portugal’s index led the pack with a double-digit confidence boost of 22 points, followed by smaller upticks among other hard-hit austerity markets. Spain’s index increased eight points to 56, Italy’s rose six points to 47, and Greece’s inched up one point to 48, compared with the second quarter. Despite a one-point quarterly confidence decline in Ireland, the country’s third-quarter index score of 69 was a three-point improvement from one year ago.

While the overwhelming majority of respondents in these countries still felt mired in recession, each reported mindset improvements from the previous quarter. Portugal reported a recessionary sentiment decline of 9 percentage points in the third quarter from a three-year average at 97 percent, and Spain declined 5 percentage points quarterly from a three-year average of 92 percent.

“In Portugal, second-quarter GDP results reported an improvement after 10 consecutive quarters of declines, which has likely ushered some confidence back to consumers,” said Gustavo Nunez, market leader, Nielsen Iberia. “But while recent employment figures, which have improved after two years of declines, have possibly elevated consumer sentiment, discussion about a second rescue and the potential for new austerity measures may impact this optimism.”

Seventy percent of European markets reported consumer confidence increases in the third quarter, as improvements across all confidence indicators showed positive, albeit marginal, regional momentum. Consumer confidence index scores were highest in Denmark (103), Switzerland (98), Norway (96) and Germany (92), and most improved in Portugal (55), the U.K. (87), France (61), Belgium (81), Spain (56), and Italy (47), compared with levels in the second quarter.

“German consumers were optimistic in the third quarter, which was noteworthy given the survey was fielded during the phase of election campaigns where cost-critical topics such as tax increases, the rescue of the euro, and energy costs may have played an important role,” said Ingo Shier, managing director, Nielsen Germany. “Rather than take a pessimistic view of the future, it appears that Germans remained somewhat unaffected by the political environment as fundamental economic data were likely perceived as robust. As the development of coalition talks continue, however, consumer confidence sentiment will be closely monitored.”

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Other findings include:

  • Consumers around the world are ready to spend, but they’re conditioned to save.
  • Optimism is slowly returning to the U.S. and Western Europe.
  • Saving, investing and paying down debt were priorities in the third quarter.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q3 2013 Global Consumer Confidence Report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted between August 14 and September 6, 2013, 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 their Internet users, and 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 10 million 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.