Global Consumers Closed 2013 with Closed Wallets: Discretionary Spending Fell in Q4

Global Consumers Closed 2013 with Closed Wallets: Discretionary Spending Fell in Q4

Around the world, shoppers reigned in their discretionary spending at the end of 2013. According to Nielsen’s latest Global Survey of Consumer Confidence, consumers said they spent less across all categories measured in Q4 2013, compared to Q3.

Consumer spending plans for out-of-home entertainment fell the most quarter-on-quarter, declining 7 percentage points to 28 percent. At the same time, intentions to spend on new clothes (31%), holidays/vacations (32%), and investing in stocks and mutual funds (19%) each decreased 6 percentage points in the fourth quarter. In addition, saving intentions (47%), spending on new technology (24%) and home improvement projects (20%) declined 5 percentage points each. Around the globe, 15 percent of online respondents said they had no spare cash, an increase from 13 percent reported in Q3.

Asia-Pacific respondents showed the most restraint, with discretionary spending intentions down 12 percentage points for new clothes and 10 percentage points each for holidays/vacations, out-of-home entertainment and investing in stocks. While 60 percent of those surveyed in Asia-Pacific said they put spare cash into savings—the highest of any region—this was a decrease from 69 percent reported in Q3. All other regions also reported spending declines, but not as drastic. Across each of the nine spending categories measured, respondents reported an average decline of 4 percentage points in North America, 3 percentage points in the Middle East/Africa and 1 percentage point in both Europe and Latin America.

“Growth in developing markets is slowing and with weaker prospects than before, they are competing for investment and financial resources as advanced economies recover,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen. “Recession-minded consumers who are already challenged by rising living expenses showed a reluctance to spend leading up to the holiday season and kept their money in their wallets.”


Other findings include:

  • Global consumer confidence in Q4 2013 and outlook for 2014.
  • A regional review of consumer confidence around the world.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q4 2013 Global Consumer Confidence Report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Nov. 11–29, 2013 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, is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers, and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. 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 Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.