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The Divide Between Recovering and Debt-Ridden Countries in Europe Widened in Q1
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The Divide Between Recovering and Debt-Ridden Countries in Europe Widened in Q1

Europe reported a stark reversal of consumer confidence performance in Q1 compared with Q4 2012, according to findings from the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions. At the end of last year, consumer confidence fell in 20 of 29 European markets. The opposite occurred in Q1, as consumer confidence rose in 18 of 29 markets.

“While this is a promising sign for the region, there is a polarization of recession versus recovery rates between debt-ridden southern Europe and recovering central and northern countries,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen. Fifty-eight percent of Swiss and 63 percent of Norwegians were optimistic about job prospects in the next year, compared to 5 percent of Spanish, 3 percent of Portuguese, and 8 percent of Italians.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions 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.

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Germany’s first-quarter consumer confidence performance was strong for the third straight year, recording index highs of 92 in 2011, 90 in 2012 and 90 in 2013. All three components of the consumer confidence index—personal finances, propensity to buy, and career prospects—have developed well for Germany in the first quarter of 2013.

“The German labor market, which is showing solid development compared with the rest of Europe, is contributing to the confidence of German consumers,” said Ingo Schier, Managing Director, Nielsen Germany. “The capital markets are also stabilizing at present, which is demonstrated by the upward trend of the German Stock Index. At the end of March, it reached its highest level since July 2007. The biggest risk factor in the Euro zone remains the sovereign debt crisis, however, which means that a negative impact on consumer confidence in the future cannot be ruled out.”

The biggest consumer confidence increases in the region were reported in Denmark and Finland, up seven points each to index levels of 96 and 76, respectively. Switzerland (100), Czech Republic (67), Slovakia (62), Italy (44), and Hungary (42) each reported quarterly increases of five index points. Confidence in Norway (105) and Switzerland rose three and five points, respectively, and reported the only consumer confidence index scores in the region at or above the 100 baseline.

Conversely, consumer confidence in Portugal dropped five points in Q1 to an index of 33, the lowest reported score for the country since the Nielsen consumer confidence index was established in 2005. And while Greece (40) and Italy (44) reported consumer confidence scores that were among the lowest of the 58 countries measured, these countries reported growing optimism in Q1.

Other findings include:

  • Spending intentions in North America increased since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008.
  • Confidence in key Asian export economies rebounded strongly in Q1.
  • Latin Americans reported spending restraint and the region’s confidence dipped two points in Q1.
  • Consumer confidence in the Middle East/Africa region declined to the lowest level in three years.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q1 2013 Global Consumer Confidence Reporrt.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Feb. 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, 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.