Though global consumer confidence remained stable in the first quarter with a one-point increase from the previous quarter, significant variation existed on a country-by-country basis, and a growing recessionary sentiment was the mood in many markets. In fact, six in 10 global respondents believed their nation’s economy was in recession in the first quarter, an increase from 55% in the fourth quarter of last year and the highest level since 2012. Additionally, recessionary sentiment rose in 40 of 61* measured markets in the first quarter, with double-digit percentage point increases in Estonia (+24%), Colombia (+15%), Hong Kong (+12%), Singapore (+12%), Norway (+10%), Argentina (+10%) and Saudi Arabia (+10%).
Recessionary sentiment also rose nine percentage points in France (to 81%), China (38%) and the Netherlands (58%) from the fourth quarter. It rose eight percentage points in Romania (to 54%) and seven percentage points in Russia (88%), Italy (87%), Japan (82%), Thailand (82%), and Canada (72%).
High levels of recessionary sentiment were also seen in the emerging markets of Venezuela (98%), Ukraine (97%), Belarus (96%), Brazil (94%), South Korea (92%) and Kazakhstan (91%).
“Concerns about a global recession dissipated among economists by the end of the first quarter of 2016. Still, consumers across markets surveyed in the first quarter of 2016 were, on average, more likely than not to think their economy was in recession relative to those surveyed the previous quarter,” said Louise Keely, senior vice president, Nielsen, and president, The Demand Institute. “Big jumps in recessionary sentiment of some individual markets can indicate consumer concerns about macroeconomic or even political situations specific to that country, even if they do not coincide with an actual recession.”
Worldwide worries and concerns
The economy, job security and health were top concerns around the world, but many other worries were top of mind, too. In particular, terrorism fears gripped many in Europe, while crime and increasing food prices were prominent for many in Latin American markets. Work-life balance was on the minds of many in Asia-Pacific, and parents’ welfare and happiness was a central concern in Asian and Middle Eastern markets.
Other findings include:
- India and Indonesia stood out as buoyant growth markets in Asia, while confidence declined in Hong Kong and Japan.
- U.S. consumer confidence showed resilience, but also a rise in intent to pay down debts.
- Consumer confidence increased in 33% of the markets measured this quarter, compared with 43% that showed an increase in the fourth quarter of 2015.
- Chile was the only country measured in the Latin American region with a slight rise in confidence in the first quarter, up one point to 80 from the previous quarter.
- 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.
*As Belarus and Kazakhstan were added in the first quarter of 2016, these two markets are not included in the total number of measured online markets where recessionary sentiment grew.
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.