Global Consumer Confidence Drops Slightly, But Remains at Historically High Levels
The Conference Board Launches Global Consumer Confidence Index
- In more than half of 64 countries surveyed, consumers expressed uncertainty about the economy
- Spending intentions have moderated in North America and Europe, but increased in Asia-Pacific
- Index is latest addition to The Conference Board’s award-winning research, forecasting programs
The Conference Board® Global Consumer Confidence Index declined slightly in the first quarter of 2019 to 106, down one point from 107 in the fourth quarter of 2018, but still at historically high levels since the inception of the index in 2005. Consumers are likely to sustain spending, but more cautiously, amid a slowing global economy.
The softening in consumer confidence in many mature markets was offset by strengthening in many emerging markets. Half of the 36 mature economies in the survey had an increase in confidence; 15 of 28 emerging markets also saw an increase in confidence (see table on page 4).
“Despite the high levels of confidence globally, consumers in different markets have different views about where the economy is heading in 2019,” said Bart van Ark, Global Chief Economist of The Conference Board. “In more than half the countries surveyed, consumers expressing concerns about the current state of the economy outnumbered those who were not concerned. And, the majority of global consumers do not expect conditions to become more favorable over the next twelve months. Despite consumers’ caution with regard to spending, a pullback does not appear imminent. However, the current results seem to indicate that global consumer confidence may be peaking, suggesting that global economic growth may gradually slow in the coming quarters.”
Consumers Confident About Job Prospects, Personal Finances
Globally, consumers remain confident about job prospects, with 58 percent saying conditions will be “excellent” or “good” in the next 12 months. In particular, Asian and North American consumers had a positive outlook on jobs. In Europe, consumers in several countries expressed concern about job prospects, including France, Italy, Spain and the UK. Job prospects were also weaker in Latin America and the Middle East.
As many as 63 percent of consumers had a positive outlook about their personal finances, reflecting similarly strong levels in previous quarters. But consumers are much more pessimistic in some countries, including Argentina, Venezuela, France, Italy, Russia and Turkey.
“Globally, despite relatively strong sentiment regarding job prospects and personal finances, consumers are more cautious about spending intentions, with only half of them stating this is an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ time to spend,” said Denise Dahlhoff, Senior Researcher, Consumer Research at The Conference Board. “Spending intentions appear to have softened somewhat in North America and Europe. However, consumers in Asia-Pacific showed an upward trend on spending intentions.”
Index is Latest Addition to The Conference Board’s Economic Indicators Program
The Global Consumer Confidence Index is the latest addition to The Conference Board’s portfolio of economic indicators, which includes the Consumer Confidence Index® for the US, The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™, the Employment Trends Index™, The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® Index, and Leading Economic Indexes for 12 countries, the Euro Area and globally.
The Global Consumer Confidence Index is based on responses from over 32,000 online consumers in 64 markets throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and North America. It was acquired from Nielsen, which first began the survey in 2005. Nielsen, which is a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch, will continue to collaborate with The Conference Board on conducting the global survey.
“This new index series represents an important expansion of the global coverage of our economic indicators program,” said van Ark. “While informative to our members and the public on consumer expectations worldwide, it also strengthens our forecasting and research programs to provide trusted insights for what’s ahead.”
The series for the world, the 64 countries covered and regional aggregates as well as information on several components of the index, including job prospects, personal finances and spending intentions, are released on a timely basis in summary format to the public during the first two weeks of each quarter. Detailed data series are made available on a complimentary basis to members of The Conference Board.
Global Regional Highlights for First Quarter of 2019
- Asia-Pacific: Confidence remained unchanged at 117, a historical high. Consumers in China, India and Indonesia have high confidence levels. Moreover, China’s index improved slightly to 115. The most significant decline was for Japan, with a decrease of 5 points to 83.
- Latin America: Consumer confidence improved to 95, with no markets showing a decline. After strengthening over the last two quarters, Brazil’s confidence was unchanged in the current quarter. Mexico and Colombia both rebounded from earlier declines. Confidence levels in Argentina and Venezuela improved, yet remained very low.
- Middle East & Africa: Confidence levels improved marginally to 96, the highest level in four years. Sentiment among consumers in the region’s wealthy economies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, remained positive and upbeat. Only Pakistan showed a substantial drop in confidence, most likely driven by rising inflation and fears of austerity measures amid mounting government financial constraints.
- North America: After a decline last quarter, confidence improved to 118, primarily driven by consumers in Canada. Confidence in the US remained unchanged. Robust job and wage growth should continue to support consumers in both markets.
- Europe: Confidence in the broadly defined European region declined to 83, after peaking in the final quarter of 2017. However, while 15 of 34 markets saw a decline in confidence, including Russia and Turkey, consumers in most of the Euro Area countries were less pessimistic. Among the largest markets in the Euro Area, consumer confidence in Germany remained unchanged, Italy and Spain showed a decline, while France’s index rebounded from the impact of civil unrest in the prior quarter. Consumer confidence in the UK remained unchanged. Concerns about job prospects remained relatively high among European consumers. However, as labor markets are tight in most Euro Area economies except Italy and Spain, higher wages should help support consumer spending in the months ahead.
Source: April 2019 Global Consumer Confidence Survey
The Conference Board / Release #6081
About The Conference Board® Global Consumer Confidence Survey
The Conference Board publishes the quarterly Global Consumer Confidence Index at 8:00 AM ET.
The Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence release schedule for 2019:
Wednesday, July 03, 2019 (for Q2 2019 data)
Wednesday, October 09, 2019 (for Q3 2019 data)
The Global Consumer Confidence Index Highlights, full report and technical notes to this series are available on The Conference Board website.
About The Conference Board
The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.
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