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Brexit has affected fears not confidence

Confidence slightly higher than a year ago but huge rise sees economy become #1 concern

LONDON – 21 February, 2017. British consumer confidence at the end of 2016 was marginally higher than at the end of 2015 but a huge rise in concern about the economy saw it overtake terrorism and immigration as the nation’s biggest concern.

The latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions revealed that across 2016, the economy saw the biggest rise in the amount of Britons citing it as their 1st or 2nd biggest concern. The proportion doing so rose 12 percentage points to 28%. Political stability saw the next biggest rise, jumping eight points to 10% – five times higher than at the end of 2015.

Britons slightly more confident than a year ago

Overall, the British Consumer Confidence Index finished 2016 at 102 – one point higher than a year earlier – much higher than the European average of 81. Britain was Europe’s fourth most confident country, (behind Denmark, the Czech Republic and Switzerland) compared to second a year ago.

Across Britain, all consumer sentiments relating to personal finances, spending intentions and cutting costs were more positive at the end of 2016 than the beginning, except job prospects. Indeed, the proportion of Britons positive about making purchases finished 2016 at his highest level on record (53%).

As the political and economic planning for Brexit gets underway, concerns about jobs leaving the UK have unsettled consumers, as did the US election,” said Steve Smith, managing director, Nielsen U.K. and Ireland. “However, times generally remain good for British consumers, with strong employment and wage growth that rose slightly ahead of price inflation during the last year. In addition, disposable income remains stable, while tax benefits for the lower paid and a rise in the minimum wage have reduced income inequality. As a result, consumer spend continued to be the engine of UK GDP growth in 2016.”

The proportion of Britons who’ve switched to cheaper grocery brands to save money – an activity often regarded as a barometer of consumer sentiment and behaviour – finished 2016 at its second-lowest level on record (22%).

However, Smith is cautious as to whether this downward trajectory will continue, “In the last quarter, we’ve seen the first signs of rising inflation in the UK. Rising petrol prices being a primary example, seeing the third biggest jump in consumer concern. We now expect to see the start of price increases for consumer staples early this year and maybe cases of ‘shrinkflation’ as the industry looks to minimise the price increases being passed  on to shoppers.”

Global confidence levels

A Consumer Confidence Index score over 100 indicates degrees of optimism, below 100, degrees of pessimism. The global Consumer Confidence Index stands one point below Britain at 101 – four points higher than at the end of 2015. India (136) has the highest score globally, South Korea the lowest (43).

The scores are derived from Nielsen’s study, established in 2005, which measures attitudes each quarter on topics including personal finances and job prospects among 30,000+ internet consumers in 63 countries.

To view historical trends for all countries, broken down by metrics such as financial concerns and job prospects, visit the interactive Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Trend Tracker.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions polls 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 behaviour 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.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content—video, audio and text—is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit

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Alex Burmaster: Meteor Public Relations,
T: 020 3544 3570, M: 0780 313 1144,