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Saving Was Key for Most in Q1, but Millennials Outpaced the Global Averages for Spending Intentions
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Saving Was Key for Most in Q1, but Millennials Outpaced the Global Averages for Spending Intentions

Global consumer confidence increased one index point in the first quarter to a score of 97, but global discretionary spending intentions declined or remained steady across all lifestyle categories measured in Nielsen’s Global Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions Survey.

About three-in-10 global respondents planned to spend on holidays/vacations, new clothes and out-of-home entertainment, quarterly declines of two, three and two percentage points, respectively. Spending intentions for paying credit cards and debts (25%) and new technology products (24%) held steady from the previous quarter. Millennial respondents were more eager to spend—especially those in the 25-29 age range. In fact, their spending intent for these discretionary spending activities exceeded the global averages by as much 10 percentage points. Many of these consumers are just starting their careers and do not yet have families to support, which often gives them more freedom to spend.

Millennials Outpace the Global Average for Discretionary Spending Intentions: Percent planning to spend

  Global Average 25 to 29 Difference
Out-Of-Home Entertainment 28% 36% 8%
New Clothes 31% 36% 5%
New Technology Products 24% 34% 10%
Home Improvements/Decorating 20% 26% 6%
Holidays/Vacations 32% 38% 6%
Investing In Stock/Mutual Funds 22% 30% 8%
I Have No Spare Cash 14% 8% -6%
Source: Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, Q1 2015

Global saving intentions increased slightly from fourth quarter: at one percentage point each for investing in stocks and mutual funds (22%) and for retirement savings (11%). About half of global respondents planned to bank their spare cash (48%), no change from the previous quarter, while 14% said they had no spare cash, up from 13% the previous quarter.

“With falling oil prices, consumers in the U.S. and Europe, and those in oil-importing countries, have a choice of whether to spend or save the extra cash on hand,” said Louise Keely, senior vice president, Nielsen, and president, The Demand Institute. “Data from early 2015 suggests that consumers are not spending it all. That, alongside global savings and investing intentions, suggests that consumers around the world, while generally feeling relative upbeat compared to a few years ago, are still very interested in preparing for their economic futures.”

Regionally, a review of the top spending intentions among respondents showed similar priorities, as putting cash into saving accounts was the top goal for respondents in every region except Latin America. In Latin America, paying off debts claimed the highest percentage of respondents. Spending time to relax and have fun was also important around the world, as plans to go on holidays/vacations, buy new clothes and spend on out-of-home entertainment expenses were among the highest-rated activities.

North Americans reported the highest percentage having no spare cash (22%), followed by respondents in the Middle East/Africa (21%), Europe (20%), Latin America (15%) and Asia-Pacific (8%).

Other findings include:

  • Nine of 14 countries in Asia-Pacific start the year at or above a baseline reading of 100.
  • Concerns about the economy and job security decreased while health and work/life balance concerns increased.
  • North American recessionary sentiment continued to recede, but spending intentions were restrained.
  • Confidence in Latin America declines to the lowest level since 2011.
  • Recession-battered Italy and Greece post 12-point quarterly confidence increases.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q1 2015 Global Consumer Confidence Report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Feb. 23 – March 13, 2015, 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.