Consumer Spending Uptick Shows ‘Green Shoots’ of Economic Recovery

Consumer Spending Uptick Shows ‘Green Shoots’ of Economic Recovery

Global consumer spending appears to be on the rebound, driven by sales gains in China, India, the U.S. and Canada in April, another indication that the global economy may be stabilizing as consumer attitudes and confidence turn up. For the first time in four months, since the creation of the Nielsen Economic Current (NEC) scorecard of consumer behavior, a monthly report from The Nielsen Company, none of 10 major GDP countries showed declines in consumer activity compared to the previous month.

“Although consumers are still not shopping as frequently, we are seeing a turnaround in spending as shoppers spend more money per trip,” said James Russo, Vice President, Global Consumer Insights for The Nielsen Company. “There continues to be the emergence of optimism worldwide, and this upward trend in spending across four leading economies is further evidence that the ‘green shoots’ of economic recovery are finally breaking through. We expect to see even more forward momentum as we look to the second half of 2009.”

1=Very Strong Growth >/= +5%; 2 = Growth between +1 and +4%;

3 =Neutral Between -1 and +1%; 4 =Negative between -1 and -4%;

5 = Very Negative = -4%

Noteworthy Trends

  • Scores of six out of 10 GDP countries remained flat from the previous month and no country declined for the first time in four months, hopeful signs that the global economy is stabilizing as consumer confidence cautiously begins to turn up.
  • The United States’ score saw a strong rebound from declines in March, up to a 2 (growth of 1% to 4%) from a 5 (as much as 4% decline). The lift is further evidence that the U.S. consumer market may have bottomed out and we will start to see modest gains in spending going forward. (Seasonality is partially a factor due to Easter falling in March last year and April this year.) While consumers are spending more money per shopping trip, they are still shopping cautiously, shifting to value channels like Target and Costco, and to private label store brands.
  • India held steady, while China strengthened its score considerably, moving to a 1 (up to 5% growth) from a 3 (flat growth), a result of a massive stimulus and strong dollar and unit sales growth. This is a particularly hopeful sign given that China and India are best positioned, as the world’s leading economies, to be the leaders in a global recovery, based on export and domestic goods demand.
  • Canada continued to show moderate levels of consumer spending growth, with a score of 1 (up to 5%), up from 2 (growth of 1% to 4%). Data this month shows that Canadian shoppers are spending more money per trip, possibly a result of retailers running more promotional sales to entice shoppers to stock up on goods.
  • Western Europe remains in a neutral position, not showing significant fluctuations in consumer activity. Despite rising unemployment, the vast majority of consumers have regular income, which means that many are saving more.

Download the latest Nielsen Economic Current.

Download the Nielsen Economic Current media release.