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Amid a Year of Great Change, Consumer Confidence Finished on a High Note in Most Markets
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Amid a Year of Great Change, Consumer Confidence Finished on a High Note in Most Markets

Global consumer confidence increased modestly in 2016, a time of great political and economic change around the world, rising three points between the first and fourth quarters to 101. Confidence scores finished the year more strongly than they began in every region except Africa/Middle East. And while quarter-over-quarter swings occurred in most markets, fourth-quarter confidence scores increased from the first quarter of 2016 in 44 of the 63 markets measured in the online survey, including eight of the world’s top 10 economies (Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, U.K. and U.S.).

North America saw the greatest change in 2016, with the index rising 12 points between the first and the fourth quarters to a score of 120. The increase across North America was fueled by consumer confidence increases in both the U.S. and Canada between the opening and closing of the year.

Confidence in the Asia-Pacific region strengthened modestly in 2016, rising three points between the first and the fourth quarter to 111. While fourth-quarter scores varied widely in the region, ranging from a high of 136 in India to a low of 43 in South Korea, the majority of markets (10 of 14) finished the year more optimistic than they started. The biggest increase was in the Philippines, where confidence rose 13 points from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. Sentiment declined slightly during the year in three markets, falling four points in Taiwan, two points in Singapore and one point in South Korea. Confidence was flat in Japan from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.

Confidence also increased modestly in Europe in 2016, rising from 78 in the first quarter to 81 in the fourth quarter. Scores increased in the majority of countries in the region (25 of 34), with the biggest jumps in the Netherlands (up 15 points to 100), Spain (up 12 points to 86), Switzerland (up 11 points to 102), Sweden (up nine points to 95) and Norway (up nine points to 87). Confidence declined in six countries during the year, with the steepest declines in the Baltic states of Latvia (down eight points), Lithuania (down five points) and Estonia (down two points), as well as in Turkey (down six points).

In Latin America, confidence rose five points in 2016, from 78 in the first quarter to 83 in the fourth quarter. Confidence in Brazil, the largest economy in the region, rose 11 points to 85, and it increased seven points in Colombia (to 90) and five points in Peru (96) from the start to the end of 2016. Confidence in Venezuela declined three points from the first quarter, finishing the year at 57, the lowest level recorded since the country was added to the survey in 2008. In Mexico (at 86) and Argentina (75), consumer confidence was flat from the start of the year.

Africa/Middle East was the only region where confidence declined from the first quarter to the fourth quarter of 2016, dropping five points to 83, driven by double-digit declines in Egypt (down 14 points) and Saudi Arabia (down 10). Nonetheless, while confidence fell in the fourth quarter in the majority of markets in the region, sentiment still improved modestly from the beginning of the year in four of six markets in the region: United Arab Emirates (up four points), Pakistan (up two), South Africa (up two) and Morocco (up one).

“The set of factors influencing confidence are multifaceted and go beyond economics and business,” said Louise Keely, executive vice president and global retail practice leader, Nielsen. “In 2016, there were political and social factors that created uncertainty for consumers in many regions of the world. Those factors died down somewhat at the end of the year, and average confidence across regions rebounded a bit. There continues to be wide variation in confidence across countries, as confidence is affected more by local conditions than global ones.”

Other findings from the recent Global Consumer Confidence Report include:

  • Concerns about terrorism declined across Europe in Q4, but remained high in many markets.
  • In North America, confidence indicators improved most in the U.S.
  • India’s consumer confidence score rose to 136, the highest level in 10 years.
  • Brazil, the largest market measured in the Latin America region, posted the highest score seen in the country since the first quarter of 2015.
  • In Egypt, the consumer confidence index declined six points to 64, the lowest level for the country since it was added to the survey in 2007.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q4 2016 Global Consumer Confidence Report.

For a historical look at global consumer confidence by region, country and time period, explore the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Trend Tracker.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Oct. 31–Nov. 18, 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 survey methodology among 1,600 respondents in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.