Where Are Consumers Spending and Saving Around the World?

Where Are Consumers Spending and Saving Around the World?

The first half of 2017 has seen significant economic and political changes in a number of markets around the world. Despite these changes, consumers globally were more confident in the second quarter of 2017 than at the end of 2016, with our consumer confidence index up three points since the close of last year. This rising tide of confidence represents more positive responses toward three key metrics: job prospects, the state of personal finances and the belief that now is a good time to buy the things they want and need.

On the jobs front, sentiment about job prospects improved two points globally when compared against the end of 2016. Additionally, more global consumers believe their job prospects are stronger now than they were in fourth-quarter 2016. Optimism levels about personal finances increased from a score of 47 at the end of 2016 to 50 among consumers who said their finances were “good.” Additionally, fewer consumers responded by saying “not so good” than in late 2016.

So what are people planning to spend any spare cash on? Savings, holidays/vacations, and new cloths are the top three ways respondents around the world plan to make use of any additional cash, and this was also consistent across most regions. In addition, the percentage of those planning to put money towards these areas has increased since the end of last year. Paying off debt/credit cards/loans has also increased globally and cracked the top three for those surveyed in Africa/Middle East, Latin America and North America.  

Despite the rise in consumer confidence and the increasingly positive attitude toward job prospects, job security is a big concern for consumers globally. The economy and health are also top concerns around the world and at a regional level. In Europe and North America, however, terrorism is top of mind for consumers.

With the economy a top concern for consumers globally, it should come as no surprise that half of respondents around the world believe their country is in an economic recession. Regionally, recession concerns are highest in Latin America and Africa/Middle East. Still, concern about recession decreased in all regions during the second quarter of 2017 when compared to the end of 2016.

Given consumers’ lingering economic concerns, 65% of global respondents to the recent survey said they’ve changed their spending to save on household expenses. So although respondents globally said they plan to use some of their spare cash to purchase new clothes, spending less on new clothes was the No. 1 action respondents have taken to save money. Globally, consumers have also cut down on out-of-home entertainment and tried to save on gas and electricity to reduce household expenses.

For additional insights, download Nielsen’s second-quarter Consumer Confidence Index report.


The Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and immediate-spending intentions. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively. Within a country, period-to-period movements of seven points or more are considered statistically significant. At a global level, movements of two points are statistically significant; at a regional level, three to four-point movements are statistically significant. The index and other findings related to consumer confidence are based on data from the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions. Established in 2005, this survey measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 30,000 respondents with internet access in 63 countries.