Despite recent optimism about a turnaround in the global economy, consumer activity in the United States and China showed significant declines during the month of March. The change was led by a continued decrease in shopping trips and consumer transactions, according to the Nielsen Economic Current scorecard. The U.S. decline may be partially attributed to the Easter holiday occurring in March last year, while it took place in April this year. Similarly, the drop in China may have been affected by the Chinese New Year (a high sales peak), which was in February 2008 but in January in 2009. However, Nielsen Economic Current analysts are watching for signs of a longer term retrenchment in spending.
"Global consumer spending is still moderate from last month and confidence in the economy remains low," said James Russo, Vice President Global Consumer Insights for The Nielsen Company. "While there is growing optimism worldwide in an economic recovery, U.S. and China consumers remain the most cautious as they continue to shift towards purchasing store brands and cut back on discretionary spending, such as entertainment outside of the home and other personal luxury items."
Nielsen's scorecard ranks national economic performance on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing very strong growth (over 5%).
According to this month's scorecard, seven out of 10 GDP countries remained flat from the previous month. India continues to be the only country that scored a 1 in March 2009, while Canada once again scored a 2 (growth between 1% and 4%). Spain jumped from a 5 to a 3 as consumers spent more per trip and shopped more frequently than in February. China slipped from a 1 to a 3, while the U.S. dropped from a 4 to a 5, the only country to rank as a 5.
Download Nielsen's latest Economic Current.