Concerns About Terrorism and Immigration Seem to be Weighing on Consumers in Western Europe

Concerns About Terrorism and Immigration Seem to be Weighing on Consumers in Western Europe

Among advanced markets in Europe, first-quarter consumer confidence declined four points in the U.K. (97) and one point in Germany (97) from the previous quarter, as a favorable outlook for jobs in the next 12 months worsened in both countries. Job prospect sentiment declined four percentage points in the U.K. (41%) and three percentage points in Germany (55%). Immediate spending intentions also declined three percentage points in the U.K. (49%) and one percentage point in Germany (49%).

“Terrorism and immigration concerns topped the list of worries for respondents in both countries and may be depressing consumer confidence along with concerns about a possible Brexit (a U.K. referendum in June to remain within or leave the European Union), despite the strong European GDP growth in the first quarter of 2016,” said Louise Keely, senior vice president, Nielsen, and president, The Demand Institute. “These levels of concerns are recent phenomena, related to political events in Europe. They are subject to some volatility quarter to quarter and we will monitor whether they persist in eclipsing economic concerns.”

In Germany, respondents who said terrorism was their biggest or second-biggest concern increased nine percentage points to 32% from the fourth quarter, while the percentage concerned about immigration declined five percentage points to 22%. The trend was opposite in the U.K: Terrorism was a concern for 22% of respondents, a decline of 10 percentage points from the previous quarter, but immigration concerns increased three percentage points to 25%.

Meanwhile, in France, confidence declined 10 points to 64, and in Italy, it went down two points to 59, as job prospect sentiment deteriorated. In both countries, only 12% said job prospects were good or excellent in the year ahead—a fall of 10 percentage points in France and six percentage points in Italy from the previous quarter. This occurred despite particularly strong GDP growth in France in the first quarter of 2016.Terrorism concerns also weighed heavily for many in both countries; the percentage expressing concern rose to new highs in France (35%) and in Italy (22%).

Other advanced markets in the region have bucked the downward trend. Confidence scores in Spain (74) and Portugal (71) remained at low levels, but they continued to make steady strides toward recovery. Confidence in these two rather recession-battered Eurozone nations increased two and five points, respectively, from the previous quarter. Confidence in Portugal has been on a relatively steady climb since 2014. Immediate-spending intentions increased notably in both countries: Confidence in Spain increased four percentage points to 33%, and Portugal increased five percentage points to 24%, from the fourth quarter last year. Confidence in Greece (53) remained very low but stable for the fourth consecutive quarter.

In Russia, an important growth market in the region, confidence showed a downward trend, declining 11 points to 63. While Russia has been in recession since mid-2014, confidence took a further hit this past quarter. Job prospect sentiment plummeted 10 percentage points to 14%, immediate spending intentions fell eight percentage points to 17%, and personal-finance sentiment dropped 10 percentage points to 26%. All three indicators were at the country’s lowest levels in Nielsen’s 11-year consumer confidence history. Eighty-eight percent of Russians believed their economy was in recession—an increase of seven percentage points from the previous quarter and the country’s highest level since 2009.

Other findings from Nielsen’s latest Consumer Confidence Index include:

  • India and Indonesia stood out as buoyant growth markets in Asia, while confidence declined in Hong Kong and Japan.
  • Six in 10 global respondents believed their nation’s economy was in recession in the first quarter, the highest level since 2012.
  • Consumer confidence increased in 33% of the markets measured this quarter, compared with 43% that showed an increase in the fourth quarter of 2015.
  • Chile was the only country measured in the Latin American region with a slight rise in confidence in the first quarter, up one point to 80 from the previous quarter.
  • Consumer confidence in all three sub-Saharan markets measured by Nielsen (Nigeria, Ghana & Kenya) were at high levels, but the latest results showed mixed trends.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s first-quarter 2016 Global Consumer Confidence Report. If you would like more detailed country-level data from this survey, it is available for sale in the Nielsen Store.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted March 1–23, 2016, and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 63 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.