Confidence Is Rising in Europe, But Concerns Remain

Confidence Is Rising in Europe, But Concerns Remain

Consumer confidence throughout the European region continued its steady, uphill climb in the third quarter, as 21 of 32 markets (66%) showed index score improvements from the second quarter. Confidence in Germany, the region’s largest economy, increased three index points to the baseline optimism score of 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.

“Overall, the U.K. economy is in better shape than most other European countries, as the unemployment rate is down and wage inflation is rising faster than general inflation,” said Steve Smith, market leader, Nielsen U.K. and Ireland. “Shoppers are also seeing the benefit of lower fuel and energy costs, and households are redirecting spending proportionately to non-food items such as phones, autos and vacations. Within food and grocery, the categories with the strongest volume growth continue to be the more expandable categories of beverages, confectionery and snacks, which are typically driven by promotions and branded innovation.”

“In Germany, consumers have assessed their personal financial situation more positively, as the ongoing upbeat developments in the labor market continue,” said Ingo Schier, managing director, Nielsen Germany. “The solid upswing of the German economy is also reflected in an increased consumer sentiment on spending. Nevertheless, while the majority of German consumers are optimistic about the future, current events, such as the refugee issue, are weighing on Germans, as concerns about terrorism and immigration have grown notably in the third quarter.”

More bright spots were seen regionally, as confidence increased most in Poland (80) and Portugal (66), rising 10 and nine index points, respectively, from the second quarter. 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.

Fears about terrorism rose in Europe

Concerns about the economy and job security in the next six months remained among the most pressing issues for 30% and 22% of global respondents, respectively, but concerns about terrorism grew around the world, rising seven percentage points in Europe (18%) and two percentage points in both the Middle East/Africa (17%) and Asia-Pacific (7%) regions. Fears about terrorism decreased one percentage point in North America to 13% and were unchanged in Latin America (2%) from the second quarter.

More than one-fifth of respondents in Turkey, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria and the U.K. said terrorism was their biggest or second-biggest concern with regard to the next six months. Quarter-on-quarter terrorism concern levels grew most in Turkey (+37 percentage points), Thailand (+11pp), U.K. (+9pp), Israel (+9pp), Slovakia (+9pp), Germany (+8pp) and Croatia (+8pp).   

Other findings include:

  • Morocco was added to the Global Survey this quarter, and the country’s index is reflected in the Middle East/Africa regional average.
  • Global consumer confidence rose three percentage points in the third-quarter to an index score of 99.
  • Global immediate spending intentions have risen 13 percentage points since 2008 to a high of 43% in the third quarter of 2015.
  • Consumer Confidence in the U.S. rose 18 percentage points to a score of 119—the highest score for the country in Nielsen’s 10-year consumer confidence history.
  • Taiwan showed the biggest quarterly decline of 12 points from the second quarter, while South Korea reported the lowest score of 49 in third quarter.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q3 2015 Global Consumer Confidence Report.

For a historical look at global consumer confidence by region, country and time period, explore the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Trend Tracker.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

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 61 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.