Rise and Shine: U.S. Consumer Sentiment About Jobs, Finances and Spending See Double-Digit Rises In Q3

Rise and Shine: U.S. Consumer Sentiment About Jobs, Finances and Spending See Double-Digit Rises In Q3

U.S. consumer confidence jumped 18 index points in the third quarter of 2015 to a score of 119 after a six-point decline in the previous quarter. The score marked the biggest quarterly increase and the highest index for the country in Nielsen’s 10-year consumer confidence history. All three confidence indicators increased by double-digit percentage points from the second quarter, as optimistic perceptions for job prospects, personal finances and immediate spending intentions posted the highest levels on record for the country.

Six-in-10 U.S. respondents believed job prospects (62%) and their immediate spending capacity (60%) would be good/excellent in the next 12 months, an increase of 12 percentage points and 16 percentage points, respectively, from the second quarter. Just under three-quarters (74%) were optimistic about their personal finances in the year ahead, a quarterly increase of 13 percentage points.

U.S. discretionary spending intentions also posted record highs in the third quarter, as plans to buy new clothes (37%) increased 14 percentage points, spending on holidays/vacations (37%) increased 19 percentage points and plans to spend on new technology (31%) and home improvement projects (31%) increased 18 percentage points and 16 percentage points, respectively, from the second quarter. Those that said they had no spare cash declined 14 percentage points to the lowest level for the country (13%) since 2005.

“U.S. consumers have plenty to feel good about as unemployment levels are lower, wages are higher and savings from lower gasoline prices are reallocated to other spending priorities,” said James Russo, senior vice president, Nielsen Global Consumer Insights. “But while year-over-year consumer-packaged good dollar sales are up 2.6% year to date through September, we are still seeing spending restraint, as unit sales are flat (0.2%) and all-outlet shopping trips have been on a downward decline since 2011. As we head into the holiday spending season, a Nielsen forecast predicts a 2% increase in dollar sales.”

While consumer confidence in Canada had maintained a near-baseline score for three consecutive quarters as of the second quarter of 2015, the country showed a slight setback in the third quarter, declining one point to 97 from the previous quarter. Personal finance sentiment increased six percentage points in the third quarter to 60%, and immediate spending intentions also increased, rising two percentage points to 43%. Conversely, job prospect sentiment declined five percentage points to 40% from the second quarter, and recessionary sentiment jumped from 46% in the second quarter to 71% in the third quarter—the biggest rise of 60 countries.

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 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.
  • Confidence in the U.K. reached 103—the highest score for the country since 2005.
  • Taiwan showed the biggest quarterly decline of 12 points from the second quarter, while South Korea reported the lowest score of 49 in the 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.