Consumer Confidence Is High and Low in Asia-Pacific During Q1 2016

Consumer Confidence Is High and Low in Asia-Pacific During Q1 2016

In the first quarter of this year, India (with an index of 134) and Indonesia (117) were bright spots for consumer confidence among growth markets in the Asia-Pacific region, up three and two points, respectively, from the previous quarter. In both countries, all three confidence indicators increased from the previous quarter, with job sentiment, personal finances and immediate spending intentions at consistently high levels.

“In India, the Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister at the end of February revealed the government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation and appears set to pave the way for sustained and inclusive growth,” said Roosevelt D’Souza, managing director, Nielsen India. “In the days following the announcement, an improvement in various macroeconomic indicators was evident, and the government seems to be on its way to achieving its objectives of low inflation, low interest rates and high GDP growth—a scenario optimal for improved consumer spending.”

Among emerging markets in the region, the Philippines (119) and Vietnam (109) are other positive growth stories in the region, as consistently high consumer confidence scores continued to edge up by two and one percentage point, respectively, in the first quarter. These robust member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have seen increased foreign direct investment combined with strong domestic demand, which has likely helped keep consumer sentiments up.

Meanwhile, confidence declined in two of the region’s advanced economies, dropping 11 points in Hong Kong (88) and six points in Japan (73). Both countries’ positive job sentiment levels showed double-digit declines in terms of percentages, falling 23 points in Hong Kong (to 22% who said job prospects were good or excellent in the year ahead) and 12 points in Japan (23%). Personal finance sentiment also declined 15 percentage points in Hong Kong to 42%—the lowest level since 2012. In China, consumer confidence edged down two points to 105, as respondents expressing a positive outlook for jobs in the next year fell five percentage points to 60%—the lowest level since 2010.

“In Hong Kong, the continued drop in mainland visitors is impacting retail sales, which were down 14% in January from a year ago, and citizens are concerned about job security,” said Angel Young, managing director, Nielsen Hong Kong. “Retail sales in major department stores recorded double-digit declines for big-ticket items, such as jewelry and watches, and year-to-date GDP growth is down by 0.6 points (from 2.4% in Q1 2015 to 1.8% in Q1 2016). As a result, consumer confidence is more cautious, and spare cash spending intentions have declined for out-of-home entertainment expenses, new clothes and new technology products.”

In Australia, an important advanced economy and lead market in the region, confidence declined seven points to 89, as all three consumer confidence indicators (job prospects, personal finances and immediate spending intentions) declined in the country in the first quarter. Spending intentions showed the biggest change, dropping four percentage points to 42%. Confidence remained stable in New Zealand at 99.

“In Australia, confidence declines reflect increased anxiety about the future of the economy and the state of personal finances,” said Justin Sargent, market leader, Nielsen Pacific. “Worries about the nation’s economy have overtaken terrorism, job security and increasing utility bills to become the biggest concern for Australians. Notable consumer sentiment movements such as this generally indicate that consumers will be pulling back or adjusting expenditures, which is already evident as Australians change their purchasing behaviors to save on household spending.”  

Other findings include:

  • In Europe, the majority of advanced economies (but not Spain and Portugal) posted confidence declines in the midst of heightened geopolitical uncertainty.
  • 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 and Kenya) were at high levels, but the latest results showed mixed trends.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q1 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.