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Confidence in Middle Eastern and South African Markets Declined in Q1
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Confidence in Middle Eastern and South African Markets Declined in Q1

Consumer confidence showed a downward trend in the first quarter of 2016 in some countries that are reliant on oil production. In particular, confidence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE, at 104) and Saudi Arabia (104) remained above the optimism baseline, but declined four and two points, respectively, from the previous quarter. A favorable job outlook for the next 12 months declined eight percentage points in each country, dropping to 51% in the UAE—the lowest level since 2010 and to 48% in Saudi Arabia (the lowest level since 2013).

“In the UAE, the decline in oil prices is likely taking a toll on consumer sentiment, which has dropped to the lowest level in six years,” said Arslan Ashraf, managing director, Nielsen UAE. “One in every two respondents believed the economy was in recession, even though it wasn’t, and job security was the biggest concern. Many in the country said they are cutting back spending on entertainment, new electronic gadgets and new clothes, spending down debt or saving for a rainy day instead. However, while Nielsen sales of the retail fast-moving consumer goods Nielsen measures are slowing, they are still showing a positive trend.”

Outside of the Middle East, consumer confidence increased one point each in Pakistan (104) and Egypt (78), but declined one point in Morocco (84). Confidence also declined seven points in South Africa to 75—a new low for the country in Nielsen’s 11-year consumer-confidence history. Positive personal finance sentiment declined eight percentage points to 49%, while favorable job prospect sentiment declined four percentage points to 18%, and immediate-spending intentions declined five percentage points to 22%.

“In South Africa, increasing levels of unemployment, lackluster economic growth and rising inflation is making it difficult for consumers in the country,” said Bryan Sun, managing director, Nielsen South Africa. “The fall in commodity prices has resulted in declines in employment in important and traditional sectors of the economy such as mining, manufacturing, construction, transport and electricity. The economy, increasing food prices, and job security are the biggest concerns for South Africans.”

Other findings from Nielsen’s latest Consumer Confidence Index include:

  • In Europe, the majority of advanced economies (but not Spain and Portugal) posted confidence declines in the midst of heightened geopolitical uncertainty.
  • Six in 10 global respondents believed their nation’s economy was in recession in the first quarter, the highest level since 2012.
  • Consumer confidence increased in 33% of the markets measured this quarter, compared with 43% that showed an increase in the fourth quarter of 2015.
  • Consumer confidence in all three sub-Saharan markets measured by Nielsen (Nigeria, Ghana & Kenya) were at high levels, but the latest results showed mixed trends.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q1 2016 Global Consumer Confidence Report. If you would like more detailed country-level data from this survey, it is available for sale in the Nielsen Store.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted March 1–23, 2016, and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 63 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America. The sample includes Internet users who agreed to participate in this survey and has quotas based on age and sex for each country. It is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers by country. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. However, a probability sample of equivalent size would have a margin of error of ±0.6% at the global level. 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.