Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, 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.
“Economic perceptions signaled positive momentum as global job prospects, personal finances and spending intentions cautiously edged up in Q1 2013,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen. “Encouraged by positive signs
in the U.S. economy and moderately steady performance in China, consumer confidence in developed Asian economies rebounded strongly last quarter, as Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan posted double-digit confidence increases.”
In the latest round of the survey, conducted February 18–March 8, 2013, consumer confidence rose in 60 percent of markets measured by Nielsen, compared to a 33-percent increase reported in the previous quarter (Q4 2012). North America (94) reported the biggest quarter-on-quarter regional consumer confidence increase of four points in Q1, followed by Asia Pacific (103), which increased two index points. Consumer confidence declines were reported in the Middle East/Africa region (85), which decreased 11 index points and in Latin America (94), which declined two index points. Europe’s regional consumer confidence index of 71 held steady from Q4 2012.
Key economies reported improved consumer confidence in the first-quarter. In particular, Germany, France and many other surrounding central and northern European countries reported increases in positive sentiment for local job prospects, personal finances and spending intentions, returning to year-ago levels. But unemployment throughout much of the Euro zone remains high.
“We suspect that fears of the European debt crisis spreading beyond recession-stricken southern European countries may have eased in the first quarter,” said Dr. Bala. “However, weak labor market conditions in troubled economies, including Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, and the recent Cyprus financial crisis are further indications of the fragile state of the European economy, which continue to hinder a full recovery in the region.”
In addition to steady consumer confidence in China, key Asian export markets rebounded strongly in the first quarter. Japan reported its highest consumer confidence score since 2006, which raised optimism toward economic recovery amid government-led financial policies. Likewise, South Korea increased 13 index points to 51, fueled by the expectation that new government policies would lift the economy out of stagnation. Hong Kong’s first-quarter performance reversed two previous quarters of declining consumer confidence, increasing the index to the highest level since Q1 2008. In Taiwan, a rise of 12 index points in Q1 to a score of 78 showed optimism, but the level is still below year-ago confidence results.
In key economies, consumer confidence increased four points in the U.S. (93), four points in Germany (91), 14 points in Japan (73), and held steady in China (108), compared to Q4 2012. Hong Kong reported the biggest quarterly index increase of 23 points to 108 and Egypt suffered the biggest decline of 20 points to 74. Indonesia reported the highest consumer confidence index at 122, a five point increase from Q4 2012. Portugal reported the lowest index at 31, a seven point decline.