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U.S. Consumer Confidence Soared in Q3 to a 10-Year High

Confidence in Europe continued an upward trajectory
Spending intentions increased, but recessionary mindset lingered


New York – Nov. 3, 2015 – Among the world’s largest economies, U.S. consumer confidence jumped 18 index points in the third quarter to a score of 119, the biggest quarterly increase and the highest index for the country in Nielsen’s 10-year consumer confidence history, according to the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions. Confidence in Europe continued on an upward trajectory for the third consecutive quarter, as 21 of 32 countries posted index increases, resulting in a regional score of 81—the highest level since 2008. The Nielsen consumer confidence index measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and immediate spending intentions, among more than 30,000 respondents with Internet access in 61* countries.

“Globally, this continues to be a period of economic uncertainty and thus mixed confidence trends,” said Louise Keely, senior vice president, Nielsen, and president, The Demand Institute. “Despite some mixed economic signals from the U.S., consumer confidence has strengthened and consumer spending is driving the economy. In Europe, confidence is more mixed due to variation in country-specific economic conditions; stronger confidence in Italy, Spain, and the UK reflects improving job markets, while Russia’s confidence has plummeted in the wake of an economic downturn. Latin American confidence also is mixed, but Brazil’s continued confidence decline looms large as Brazil is the largest economy in the region.”

Globally, consumer confidence increased three index points in the third quarter to reach a score of 99, the highest level since 2006, but uneven growth continues around the world as confidence stabilizes and grows in many advanced economies and declines in many emerging markets. Confidence in the Asia-Pacific region declined one index point to a score of 106, and it fell two points in Latin America (81)—the lowest score on record for the region. Consumer confidence held steady in the Middle East/Africa region with a score of 94.

SPENDING DESIRES CONFLICTED WITH REALITY

Globally, immediate spending intentions have been slowly increasing, rising from a low of 30% in 2008 during the Great Recession to a high of 43% in the third quarter of 2015. North Americans showed the biggest surge in plans to open their wallets with a 14-percentage point quarterly increase to 58%. Most other regions followed, with spending sentiment increasing two percentage points in both the Middle East/Africa (38%) and Europe (34%) and one percentage point in Latin America (33%). Spending intentions were flat in Asia-Pacific (47%).

Global discretionary purchase intentions high on the priority shopping list included spending on new clothes, holidays/vacations, out-of-home entertainment, new technology products and home improvement projects. More than half of global respondents (52%) planned to save their spare cash, an increase from 48% in the second quarter.

Despite a rise in spending confidence, however, half of global respondents (56%) still felt mired in recession in the third quarter, up from 54% in the second quarter. In fact, recessionary sentiment increased in 31 of 60 countries from the second quarter.

“Many consumers, across mature and emerging markets, have the mindset to spend across a range of consumer categories,” said Keely. “Still, a majority of consumers continue to believe their economies are in recession, even though most no longer are. Sharp adjustments in recessionary sentiment usually reflect actual changes in a country’s economic prospects, and indicate that consumers will be either pulling back on or more inclined toward spending.”

Recessionary sentiment levels were highest in Venezuela (98%), Ukraine (96%) and Brazil (92%) and grew the most quarter-on-quarter in Canada (up 25 percentage points to 71%), Latvia (up 21pp to 70%), Hong Kong (up 17pp to 56%), Malaysia (up 16pp to 89%) and Russia (up 14pp to 79%). Conversely, recessionary sentiment improved 10 percentage points in both the Czech Republic (33%) and Poland (54%) and nine percentage points in Ireland (62%).

REGION ROUNDUP – HIGHS AND LOWS

India’s score of 131 was the highest level among 61 markets, followed by the U.S. (119), the Philippines (117) and Indonesia (116). The U.S. showed the biggest quarterly improvement of 18 points, and Taiwan showed the biggest quarterly decline of 12 points from the second quarter. South Korea reported the lowest score of 49, an increase of four points from the second quarter.

In the U.S., discretionary spending intentions posted record highs in the third quarter, as plans to buy new clothes (37%) increased 14 percentage points, spending on holidays/vacations (37%) increased 19 percentage points and plans to spend on new technology (31%) and home improvement projects (31%) increased 18 percentage points and 16 percentage points, respectively, from the second quarter. Those that said they had no spare cash declined 14 percentage points to the lowest level for the country (13%) since 2005.

In Europe, confidence increased most in Poland (80) and Portugal (66), rising 10 and nine index points, respectively, from the second quarter. Confidence in Germany, the region’s largest economy, increased three index points to 100. In the U.K., confidence increased for the seventh consecutive quarter, rising four points in the third quarter to a score of 103—the highest score for the country  since 2005, the first year of the survey, and its first above-the-baseline score since 2006. Italy’s score of 57 increased four points from the second quarter and France held steady with a score of 66. Meanwhile, confidence in all Nordic countries in the survey declined in the third quarter: Finland decreased four points to 62, Denmark decreased three points to 109, and Norway (87) and Sweden (87) decreased one point each from the second quarter.

In Asia-Pacific, consumer confidence declined in eight of 14 countries in the region. Australia and South Korea each showed the biggest quarterly confidence increases in the region of four points, rising to a score of 93 and 49, respectively. Conversely, confidence declined 12 points in Taiwan (72), 11 points in Malaysia (78) and six points in Hong Kong (99), the biggest declines reported globally. Confidence also decreased one point in China (106), three points in Japan (80) and was flat in India (131) from the second quarter. Recessionary sentiment increased by double-digit percentages in Hong Kong (+17pp), Malaysia (+16pp), Taiwan (+15pp) and Indonesia (+10pp), and levels were among the highest in South Korea (89%), Malaysia (89%) and Taiwan (88%).

In Latin America, consumer confidence declined in five of seven markets measured in the third quarter, with Chile (79) reporting the steepest drop of five index points from the second quarter, followed by Argentina (78) and Colombia (90) with declines of three points each and Venezuela (60) with a decline of two points. The region’s largest economy, Brazil, declined two points to 79, the fourth consecutive quarter of declining sentiment and the lowest score on record for the country (i.e., since 2005). Conversely, confidence increased two points in Mexico (86) and was flat in Peru (95).

In the Middle East/Africa, Morocco marked its first introduction to the Nielsen’s consumer confidence survey in the third quarter with a score of 85. Consumer confidence increased four points in Saudi Arabia (109) and five points in Egypt (90) in the second quarter. At 107, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had the second-highest index in the region, but it decreased one point from the second quarter—the second consecutive quarter of declines and the lowest score for the country since 2013. Confidence declined five points in South Africa to 82 and one point in Pakistan to 101.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, consumer confidence increased five index points in Kenya (117) and five points in Ghana (99) in the third quarter. Conversely, confidence decreased five points in Nigeria (127), the second consecutive quarter of declines. The majority of respondents in the three countries said they did not have spare cash (68% in Ghana, 63% in Kenya and 60% in Nigeria), levels that decreased in Ghana and Kenya but increased in Nigeria from the second quarter. Among those who did claim discretionary funds, saving continued to be a priority for the majority: 77% in Ghana, 87% in Kenya and 80% in Nigeria plan to put money into savings accounts. Discretionary spending intentions for home improvement projects were the second-biggest priority among respondents in all three countries.

*Morocco was added to the Global Survey in the third-quarter of 2015, and the country’s index is reflected in the Middle East/Africa regional average.

CONTACT:

Andrew McCaskill 347.331.5725 andrew.mccaskill@nielsen.com

ABOUT THE GLOBAL SURVEY OF CONSUMER CONFIDENCE AND SPENDING INTENTIONS

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Aug. 10 – Sept. 4, 2015, 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 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 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.

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 www.nielsen.com.