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Recession Receding: Global Consumers More Optimistic Than Last Year
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Recession Receding: Global Consumers More Optimistic Than Last Year

Though consumer confidence scores saw a slowdown between the third and fourth quarters of 2014, people are still finding reasons to see the glass as half full. Confidence scores improved in 39 of 60 markets year over year, meaning that progress is slow, but it is indeed taking place in more than half of global markets measured. Eleven markets reported double-digit confidence climbs, including the U.S. and the U.K., which rose 12 and 10 points, respectively. Other notable increases from the previous year include Romania (+15), Egypt (+14), Ireland (+13) and Bulgaria (+13).

Similarly, while all global consumer confidence indicators declined in the fourth quarter—job prospects (-3 percentage points), personal finances (-1 pp) and immediate spending intentions (-1 pp)—year-over-year performance was positive. Just under half of global respondents (49%) believed the job market would be good or excellent in the next 12 months, up from 47% in fourth-quarter 2013. Likewise, perceptions of personal finances slightly improved to 56% (from 55% the previous year) and immediate spending intentions rose to 40% (from 38%).

Year-over-year key performance Indicator metrics improved most dramatically in North America. Job prospect expectations rose 12 percentage points to 50%, while the state of personal finances increased six percentage points to 64%, and immediate spending intentions jumped eight percentage points to 51% in the 12-month period. Significant improvements were also reported in the Middle East/Africa region: Job prospects increased four percentage points, personal finances rose seven points and immediate spending intentions jumped eight points, compared to fourth-quarter 2013.

Latin America was the only region to report declining year-over-year performance for all three metrics. Job prospect expectations declined 12 percentage points to 31%, the state of personal finances dropped three percentage points to 58% and immediate spending intentions declined two percentage points to 35%, from fourth-quarter 2013.

“There was a small step back in the fourth quarter reflecting some increased consumer apprehension, following improvements across the whole of 2014,” said Louise Keely, senior vice president, Nielsen and president, The Demand Institute. “Some regions of the world are still not out of the woods, including the eurozone, while others—like China and some Latin American countries—may be entering a period of slower growth in 2015.”

Another important indicator of improving consumer perceptions was found in responses for recessionary sentiment. Just over half of global respondents (53%) believed they were in a recession in the fourth quarter, a one-percentage point improvement from the previous quarter and a four-point improvement from the previous year (Q4 2013). Regionally, recessionary sentiment improved most in North America, declining 10 percentage points from the previous quarter and 15 percentage points from the previous year to 53%.

Asia-Pacific respondents showed the lowest recessionary sentiment at 41%, a one-point decline from the previous quarter and a three-point decline from the previous year. Latin American respondents reported the highest recessionary sentiment at 73%, an increase of three percentage points from the previous quarter and a rise of 12 points from the previous year. Additionally, two-thirds of European (66%) and Middle East/Africa (69%) respondents still believed they were in recession.

Other findings include:

  • U.S. consumer confidence showed robust year-over-year improvement.
  • Confidence in Asia-Pacific was still high despite recent declines.
  • Latin American confidence continued a downward trend.
  • The Middle East/Africa region showed slow, but stable progress.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q4 2014 Global Consumer Confidence Report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Nov. 10-28, 2014 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 its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6%. 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.