Global consumer confidence indexed at 94 in Q3 2013, no change from Q2 2013 and an increase of two points from the same period last year (Q3 2012), according to consumer confidence findings from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. Taiwan’s consumer confidence index increased one point from Q2 2013 and 6 points from the same period last year.
Eighty-three percent of Taiwanese online consumers think Taiwan is in an economic recession; among them, more than half still believe Taiwan won’t be out of an economic recession in the next 12 months. As a result, the economy (39%) is Taiwanese respondents’ biggest concern, followed by job security, work/life balance and increasing utility bills (all 20%). The concern toward rising utility bills increased 6 percent from Q2 2013 since the government announced in August to increase the rate of electricity since October 2013.
Seven in 10 online respondents said they have changed spending habits to save on household expenses. Cutting back on out-of-home entertainment (56%) and holidays/short breaks (49%) are on the top of Taiwanese saving list. Trying to save on gas and utilities ranked fifth with the biggest increase, up 8 points, compared to Q2 2013. When economic conditions do improve, trying to save on gas and utilities (37%) is still the first priority respondents will continue to do with 13 percent increase from the previous quarter.
Putting into savings (67%) and investing in shares of stock/mutual funds are still the first and second priority for Taiwanese online respondents utilizing their spare cash while the percentage of reporting “I have no spare cash” is down to 9 percent from 14 percent in Q2 2013.
In key developed economies, the United States saw consumer confidence increase eight index points to 98 from the same period 12 months ago, its highest score in six years (Q3 2007) and nearing pre-recession levels. Germany increased six index points year-on-year to 92. Japan rose to an index of 74 from 59 in Q3 2012. France increased eight points to 61 from 53 in Q2 2013, and the United Kingdom reported an index of 87, the highest score since Q3 2007, up 10 points from Q3 2012.
Nielsen information shows that while consumers in India and Brazil remain some of the most confident in the world, confidence in these key growth economies continues to show modest downward movement over the last few quarters. India delivered a score of 112 for its third consecutive quarter of declines, and confidence in Brazil declined one index point to 109. China and Russia both held steady from Q2 2013 with index scores of 110 and 80, respectively.
“Given the size and scale of these economies, it is encouraging to see significant gains in consumer confidence within the United States and Western Europe as we consider where we were last year and look ahead to 2014,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen. “At the same time, we have to keep modest developing market declines in perspective. While India is significantly off peak optimism of 131 measured three years ago in 2010, it is still one of the largest and most confident countries in the world, and that has an impact on the entire region.”
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, conducted between August 14 and September 6, 2013, consumer confidence increased in more than half (57%) of global markets measured by Nielsen, compared to 45 percent in Q2 2013.
Ready to Spend
Nielsen information shows that around the world, discretionary spending intentions increased across all categories measured in Q3 2013 compared to intentions from the previous quarter. Plans to buy new clothes (38%) and spend on holidays/vacations (38%), out-of-home entertainment (35%) and home improvements (25%) increased 5 percentage points each. Intentions to buy new technology products (29%) increased 4 percentage points compared to Q2 2013.
“In line with confidence findings, it is not surprising to see that consumers are planning to increase their spending across all industries measured, which will be encouraging to many retailers as they get ready for the end-of-year holiday season,” said Dr. Bala. “However, it’s going to be a slow climb for conditions in the global economy to recover, and there is no sign of rapid expansion around the corner. Additionally, it remains to be seen if consumer concerns potentially caused by the recent U.S. government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis will have a lasting effect on consumer confidence.”
Recession and Savings still on the Minds of Many
According to Nielsen’s survey, more than half (58%) of global respondents believed they were in a recession in the third quarter, a three-point increase from the previous quarter, but a four-point decline from the same period last year (Q3 2012).
Double-digit recessionary-sentiment improvements were reported in key economies compared to last year (Q3 2012). The percentage of respondents in the United Kingdom who believed they were in a recession declined 18 points to 74 percent; recessionary sentiment in the United States decreased 13 points to 68 percent, Germany declined 12 points to 46 percent, and China decreased 13 points to 26 percent.
Double-digit recessionary-sentiment increases were reported in India, Brazil and Indonesia compared to last quarter (Q2 2013). Three-quarters of Indian respondents (76%) said they were in a recession in Q3 2013, an increase of 25 percentage points. More than half of Brazilians (55%) claimed they were in a recession, an increase of 14 percentage points, as did 65 percent of Indonesians, up 11 percentage points.
Globally, respondents reported an increase in plans to save for the future, with 52 percent of those surveyed putting spare cash into savings, and 25 percent investing in shares of stocks and mutual funds, an increase of 5 and 6 percentage points, respectively, compared to Q2 2013. Investment sentiment increased in 57 percent of all markets measured, with a return to pre-recession levels in China (56%), India (34%) and the United States (14%), up 14, 9 and 7 percentage points, respectively, compared to Q2 2013. Paying off debts, credit cards and loans was the priority for 28 percent of all respondents, an increase from 25 percent in Q2 2013.
Consumer confidence in North America increased two index points to 98, the third consecutive quarter of increases and its highest level since Q3 2007. Confidence in Europe increased three index points to 74, the biggest quarterly increase since Q1 2010 and an improvement from three consecutive quarters measured at 71. Consumer confidence in Asia-Pacific declined one index point to 104, the first regional quarter-on-quarter decline since Q2 2012. Marginal consumer confidence increases were reported in Latin America and Middle East/Africa, increasing one index point each to 94 and 92, respectively, compared to Q2 2013.
North America led the strongest regional increases over the previous quarter in optimistic perceptions about local job prospects (47%), personal finances (58%) and whether it was a good time to buy (43%), rising 5, 4 and 2 percentage points, respectively.
In Europe, 70 percent of markets reported consumer confidence increases in Q3 2013 as improvements across all confidence indicators showed positive, albeit marginal, regional momentum.
In Asia-Pacific, 8 of the 14 countries measured in the region posted a consumer confidence index decline, with India (112), Japan (74) and Indonesia (120), decreasing most with declines of six, four and four points, respectively, compared to Q2 2013. In Latin America, the biggest quarterly index increases were reported in Argentina (80) and Venezuela (76), which increased 12 and eight index points, respectively. Meanwhile, consumer confidence increased in three of five Middle East/Africa markets, increasing the regional average by one index point in Q3 2013 to 92. Egypt (83) reported the biggest increase of six index points compared to the previous quarter.
Despite declining four index points, Indonesia (120) reported the highest consumer confidence index of 60 countries for the third consecutive quarter. Hungary reported the lowest index of 45, but posted a four-point increase from Q2 2013. Portugal reported the biggest quarterly index increase of 22 points for a score of 55.
About the Nielsen Global Survey
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted between August 14 and September 6, 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, 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 10M 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.
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.