Consumer Confidence: A Recessionary State of Mind

In News by Porter Anderson

Image - iStockphoto: Anthony J Hall

Image – iStockphoto: Anthony J Hall

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Following on from our conversation with Nielsen’s Andre Breedt in London Book Fair’s Quantum virtual conference, the company has written up some of its Global Consumer Confidence Report material from the end of the year.

In Recessionary Sentiment on the Minds of More Than Half Worldwide, Nielsen sees 55 percent of those surveyed saying that in the fourth quarter of 2015, they believed the were in recession.

Recessionary Sentiment Around the World in Q4 2015: Nielsen

Recessionary Sentiment Around the World in Q4 2015: Nielsen

Quoting the report:

“Recessionary sentiment was strongest and above 90 percent in:

  • Venezuela (96 percent),
  • Ukraine (95 percent),
  • Brazil (93 percent), and
  • South Korea (91 percent).

“Sentiment was lowest and below 40 percent in:

  • China (29 percent),
  • Czech Republic (33 percent),
  • Denmark (34 percent),
  • New Zealand (37 percent), and
  • Germany (38 percent).”

In several additional comments, Nielsen points to specific markets and regions:

  • Global consumer confidence declined two points from the third quarter to 97–the same score as the start of the year.
  • Cutting back on out-of-home entertainment was one of the top three savings strategies in every region in the fourth quarter, with the highest level reported in Latin America (53 percent).
  • Fears about terrorism escalated to new highs in North America and Europe.
  • Consumer confidence in the fourth quarter increased in 26 of 61 markets measured by Nielsen (43 percent of measured markets).
  • Consumer confidence in all three sub-Saharan markets measured by Nielsen (Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya) finished 2015 above an index score of 100.
Ups and Downs in the UK

Steve Smith, Nielsen’s Managing Director for the UK and Ireland has a separate report out with results that show a fall in confidence overall but rising sentiment about spending.

Initially, the report indicates that consumer confidence in the UK has fallen “for the first time since 2013, per Nielsen’s Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions. Quoting Smith’s commentary:

Steven Smith

Steven Smith

“The UK Consumer Confidence Index dipped two points to 101 in Q4 2015, from 103 in Q3. In contrast, confidence across Europe as a whole increased four points to 81. A score over 100 indicates degrees of optimism, below 100, degrees of pessimism.

“Terrorism and immigration are currently the two biggest concerns among UK consumers. The latest results show terrorism anxiety has hit its highest-ever level, with 32 percent of U.K. consumers citing it as their biggest or second-biggest concern – more than double the level a year earlier (13 percent). Immigration concerns have increased 5 percentage points over the same period to 22 percent.”

At the same time, “the number of UK consumers feeling confident about making purchases,” Smith writes, “has hit 52 percent, rising above the 50-percent mark for the first time” since the survey began asking the question in 2006’s third quarter. Smith goes on:

“For the first time, our study shows the majority of U.K. consumers are now feeling positive about spending.  A succession of favourable factors – such as a glut of retail promotions, falling fuel prices and a supermarket price war – is helping to make our money go further, leaving more to spend on non-essentials such as leisure and entertainment.”

With the global Consumer Confidence Index standing at 97, the UK becomes Europe’s second-most-confident country, Denmark being first.

Annual change in UK consumer concerns, per the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, Q4 2015

Annual change in UK consumer concerns, per the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, Q4 2015

Looking Up in The Philippines

In S0utheast Asia, Nielsen sees The Philippines leading the way for the most bullish regional confidence stance. Quoting a breakout report on the region:

Just under three-quarters (74 percent) of Filipino consumers say local job prospects are good/excellent in the next 12 months compared to the global average of 48 percent. Almost eight in 10 (79 percent) perceive their state of personal finances to be in good stead while 46 percent believe it’s a good time to buy things they want and need.

Overall, the region has what Nielsen considers a high consumer confidence score, averaging 110 in 2015’s fourth quarter:

  • Indonesia closely follows the Philippines as the third most confident consumers globally, with a score of 115, dropping one point from Q3 2015.
  • Thailand (ranked fourth globally) gained three points with a score of 114.
  • Vietnam rose to sixth place from previous rank at 10th place globally with a Consumer Confidence Index score of 108, up three points quarter-on-quarter.
  • Malaysia, which suffered the worst decline in Q3, gained back two points to settle to a score of 80.
  • Meanwhile, Singapore saw consumer confidence fall to a score of 94 in the fourth quarter, a seven-point decline from the third quarter.

Our report on Wattpad’s singular popularity in The Philippines is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.