Global Consumer Confidence Rebounding, and Sales Start to Follow

Global Consumer Confidence Rebounding, and Sales Start to Follow

Global consumers are increasingly feeling confident about the state of the economy and their own finances, and while Asia has spearheaded that rebound, signs are pointing to improved consumer behavior in other parts of the world.  According to the latest edition of the Nielsen Economic Current, volume and value sales reached their highest point since the monthly survey was launched in January 2009.  Of the twelve countries examined, only one – Germany – showed a decline in the survey, while France and Taiwan recorded improvement.

“While these results are encouraging, consumers in most parts of the world remain cautious about spending their money, and are increasingly moving to value channels.  At the same time, retailers are selling more on promotion.  It’s likely these trends will continue until economic recovery has solidly taken root,” said James Russo, Vice President, Global Consumer Insight at The Nielsen Company.

Nielsen Economic Current

Key Indicators

Country Trend Aug-09 Sep-09
Brazil 1 1
Canada 2 2
China 2 2
France 3 2
Germany 3 4
Hong Kong 2 2
India 1 1
Italy 3 3
Spain 3 3
Taiwan 3 1
United Kingdom 2 2
United States 3 3
Source: The Nielsen Company

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

Country by Country Highlights

  • U.S. – Consumers continue to be skittish about the recovery and their willingness to spend money.  Store brands, value channels and buying on promotion all showed growth as manufacturers continued to step up incentives and deals.
  • Canada – Volume and value sales grew in September 2009, with strong growth in the number of retailers selling on promotion.  Unit sales rebounded as price increases stabilized at 2 percent.
  • France – Volume and values sales showed some growth, but with confidence dropping in the September survey, French shoppers actually reduced their shopping frequency.
  • Germany – Volume sales remained neutral, while value sales recorded a small decline.  Germans continue to watch their Euros as their confidence in the economy has dipped.
  • U.K. – Volume sales improved, and premium brands returned to growth.  Consumers were taking advantage of the strong promotions on offer, shopping more frequently and spending more per trip – despite slightly decreased consumer confidence.
  • Italy – Italian consumers cut back the frequency of their shopping trips, but spent more per trip, taking advantage of retailer promotions and switching to store brands.  Volume was up, but value sales were down.
  • Spain – Spaniards remained neutral in their spending habits, but did start shopping more frequently for the first time in nine months.
  • Brazil – All indicators show that Brazil has returned to levels prior to the global economic crisis.  Volume and value sales were up, and shoppers were feeling confident: shopping frequency and spend per trip both increased.
  • India – Volume and value sales indicators each posted better than 5 percent growth, and Indians are feeling very optimistic about the economy and finances.
  • China – While retail sales were relatively flat, growth is now apparent in modern trade outlets, which may be the first sign of fast moving consumer goods sales recovery.
  • Taiwan – Volume and value sales increased solidly for the first time in nine months.
  • Hong Kong – Increased consumer confidence has driven growth of volume and value sales.

The Buzz

In an analysis of blog buzz in seven countries, Nielsen found that online discussions about the global recession have leveled off as consumers have accepted the “new normal.” At the same time, however, mentions of recovery have not gained traction, and actually declined in the most recent week reviewed.

“It seems as if people are accepting the new reality of an ever present recession, which through our analysis of online buzz illustrates that despite a dip in recession discussions in the spring, that they have now leveled off but not subsided completed. Perhaps it is not on the front burner for all consumers as it was in 2008 thru mid 2009, but definitely still on the back burner where it continues to impact consumer decisions,” concluded Russo.