Consumer confidence in the U.S. increased six index points in the first quarter to reach 100—the optimism baseline and the highest score since third-quarter 2007, according to findings from Nielsen. Canada’s index level declined one point to 99, down from 102 in first-quarter 2013. This marks only the second time U.S. consumer confidence leapfrogged Canada’s since the survey’s inception in 2005. The other occurrence was two quarters ago, in third-quarter 2013.
Mirroring the uptick in consumer confidence in the first quarter, U.S. savings and investing intentions also picked up pace, with 44 percent of respondents saying they’re putting spare cash into savings accounts, up from 39 percent in fourth-quarter 2013. Fifteen percent say they’re investing in stocks and mutual funds, up from 11 percent the previous quarter. More than one-third (36%) said they paid debts, credit cards and loans, a quarterly increase of 5 percentage points.
Also indicative of an improving consumer attitude, U.S. discretionary spending intentions increased 2 percentage points quarterly for new clothes (26%) and home improvement projects (21%). Buying new technology and spending on out-of-home entertainment were priorities for 21 percent of respondents each, up 4 and 3 percentage points, respectively, compared with fourth-quarter 2013.
“While fast-moving consumer goods spending patterns in the U.S. continue to move sideways, as evidenced by nearly flat (0.2%) unit sales gains in the first quarter, a significant milestone has been reached with consumer confidence now at its highest level since 2007,” said James Russo, senior vice president, Global Consumer Insights, Nielsen.
Other findings include:
For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s first-quarter 2014 Global Consumer Confidence Report.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Feb. 17 – March 7, 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 their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6 percent. 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 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.