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Nielsen: Global Consumer Confidence Gains Unevenly

Consumers around the world are getting a bit more confident about the global economy, according to the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions. Those in North America have helped with the confidence gain, even if they remain a bit wary of conditions.

The market research firm said global consumer confidence indexed at 93 in the first quarter of 2013, as economies in North America, Asia and northern and central Europe reported improvements in economic sentiments. The 93 figure is one point lower than the index in first quarter of 2012 but two points higher than the measurement in 2012 fourth quarter.

Consumer confidence gained in several key economies, Nielsen said, including the United States, at 93, a number that increased of four points from the previous quarter and one point from the opening quarter of 2012. Also showing a sunnier sentiments were Germany, at 91, up four points since the last quarter and one point over the prior-year period, and Japan, at 73, up 14 points and 15 points from the defined periods. China held steady at its fourth quarter 2012 measure of 108, which, however, was down two points from the first quarter of 2012.

“Economic perceptions signaled positive momentum as global job prospects, personal finances, and spending intentions cautiously edged up in the first quarter of 2013,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, which operates as part of Nielsen. “Encouraged by positive signs in the U.S. economy and moderately steady performance in China, consumer confidence in developed Asian economies rebounded strongly last quarter, as Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan posted double-digit confidence increases.”

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions measures the consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions of more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries, the firm stated. Consumer confidence measures above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism. Nielsen conducted the survey’s latest round from February 18 to March 8, and found that consumer confidence rose in 6 of 10 global markets it measures compared to a third in the 2012 fourth quarter.

Still, consumer confidence declined in the Middle East/Africa region and Latin America. The measure in Europe overall, low at 71, held steady from the 2012 fourth quarter, stemming a previous decline.