Cash Strapped, Global Consumers Spent and Saved Less in Q4 2012

Cash Strapped, Global Consumers Spent and Saved Less in Q4 2012

Global consumer confidence dipped one index point to 91 in Q4 2012, as 33 of 58 countries posted lower confidence levels than in Q3, 19 countries experienced upticks and six remained flat, according to findings from the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions. Global discretionary saving and spending patterns also declined across most lifestyle areas in Q4.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.

“Consumers around the world grappled with increasing economic concerns as the eurozone crisis spread from troubled to core countries, the U.S. fiscal cliff threat loomed large, and China’s rising inflation sparked monetary policy action,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen. “Consumers are proceeding with caution in 2013 and showed renewed discretionary spending restraint in the last quarter amid further global economic and political uncertainty.”

Saving spare cash remained a priority among 45 percent of global respondents, but down three percentage points from Q3. Intentions for paying off credit cards decreased one point to 24 percent, and plans for saving for retirement fell one point to 10 percent, compared with Q3. Goals to invest in stocks and mutual funds remained stable at 18 percent. Globally, 15 percent of respondents said they had no spare cash, up one point from the previous quarter.

Twenty-nine percent of global respondents said they plan to spend their spare cash on holidays and vacations, down two percentage points from the prior quarter. Spending plans for out-of-home entertainment and new technology each declined one point, to 28 percent and 23 percent, respectively, compared with Q3. Thirty-one percent of global respondents indicated they bought new clothes in Q4. Nineteen percent of respondents said they spent on home improvements and decorating, which remained unchanged from Q3.

Other findings include:

  • North Americans were more optimistic about job prospects and recessionary conditions than in Q3.
  • Declining confidence in Europe spread from troubled to core countries
  • Consumer confidence in developing Asia-Pacific markets outperformed developed ones
  • Latin American respondents were confident for the year ahead
  • Consumer confidence declined among Middle Easterners and Africans

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q4 2012 Global Consumer Confidence Report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Nov. 10-27, 2012 and polled more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 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.