Consumers are proceeding with caution in 2013 and showed renewed discretionary spending restraint in the last quarter amid further global economic and political uncertainty. “Consumers around the world grappled with increasing economic concerns as the Euro zone crisis spread from troubled to core countries, the United States fiscal cliff threat loomed large, and China’s rising inflation sparked monetary policy action,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen.
The most optimistic consumers were in Indonesia, with a confidence index of 124 points, up two points from the previous quarter. They were followed by those in the Philippines (121 points) and India (118 points).
Portugal remained at the bottom of the ranking as the most pessimistic consumer market, with an index of 33 points, just like in the previous quarter. It was preceded by Hungary and Italy with 41 points each and Croatia with 45 points. Consumer confidence in Hungary fell one point and in Italy three points, while in Croatia it was up two points.
In Europe, consumer confidence declined in 13 of 29 markets as households continued to be under pressure from budget cuts, tax hikes and high unemployment. The most optimistic European nation was Switzerland with a consumer confidence index of 98 points, two less than in the first quarter.
The United States, the world´s biggest economy, saw a rise in consumer confidence of three points to 96, reflecting increasing employment opportunities, higher home prices and a rising stock market.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism. The survey was conducted online between May 13 and 31, covering 29,000 consumers across 58 markets.