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Global Consumer Confidence Ended 2013 Flat, but the Outlook for 2014 Looks Brighter
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Global Consumer Confidence Ended 2013 Flat, but the Outlook for 2014 Looks Brighter

Global consumer confidence held steady in Q4 2013 with an index of 94, marking the third straight quarter where confidence was at that level. According to Nielsen’s latest Global Survey of Consumer Confidence, global confidence was one point higher at year end than it was at the beginning of the year and three points higher than in Q4 2012. Consumer confidence increased in 26 of 60 markets in Q4, decreased in 32 and remained flat in two.

Rising one index point to 105, consumer confidence in Asia-Pacific posted the only regional quarter-on-quarter increase, while sentiment in Latin America was flat, showing no change from the previous quarter with an index level of 94. From Q3, regional consumer confidence declined three index points in North America (95), two points in Middle East/Africa (90) and one point in Europe (73).

“Throughout 2013, consumers around the world remained in a virtual holding pattern as global unemployment showed few signs of progress during the year,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen. “Recovery continues to move very slowly and is hampered by cash-strapped consumers who grapple with having little discretionary income after paying essential expenses. As 2014 progresses, a brighter outlook is expected, but sluggishness will continue until there is a marked improvement in the jobless rate and wages go up commensurate with rising costs.”

While more than half (57%) of global respondents still felt entangled in a recessionary wake, that sentiment has gradually declined among the world’s largest economies, including the U.S., which reported a decrease in recessionary sentiment of 14 percentage points (compared with at the start of the Great Recession). Germany’s recessionary sentiment also decreased 9 percentage points, and Japan’s sentiment decreased 3 percentage points since Q1 2008.

“While the recovery has been painfully slow, it is important to point out that recovery in many key economies is on the right track,” said Dr. Bala. “The U.S., Germany, Japan and 33 other countries, which includes China, the United Kingdom and France, each ended 2013 with higher consumer confidence scores than at the start the year.”

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 30,000 respondents with Internet access in 60 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.

In the latest round of the survey, consumer confidence increased in 43 percent of markets measured by Nielsen, 14 percentage points lower than the 57 percent reported in the previous quarter. Among all countries surveyed, Indonesia reported the highest consumer confidence index (124) for the fourth consecutive quarter. The mark was an increase of four index points from three months ago. Portugal, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia each reported the lowest consumer confidence index of 44. Colombia reported the biggest quarter-on-quarter index increase of nine points for a score of 93, while the biggest decline came from Portugal, decreasing 11 index points.

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Other findings include:

  • Cash-strapped consumers are cautious to spend.
  • A regional review of consumer confidence around the world.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q4 2013 Global Consumer Confidence Report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Nov. 11-29, 2013 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 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.