In the midst of a contentious presidential election season, consumer confidence in the U.S. is on the rise, according to the latest Consumer Confidence Index data released today by Nielsen.
Despite the uncertainty and starkly contrasting rhetoric around key economic issues, Americans remained optimistic in the second quarter with a with a three-point confidence increase to 111. The U.S. was the only country in the global survey to sustain growth momentum in the second quarter; in contrast, the global consumer confidence index for the same period was flat at 98.
Established in 2005, the Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index is fielded quarterly in 63 countries to measure the perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances, immediate spending intentions and related economic issues of real consumers around the world. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively.
U.S. consumer confidence maintained positive momentum in the second quarter, increasing three points to 113 from the previous quarter.
U.S. confidence has been at or above the optimism baseline of 100 for more than two years (since Q1 2014).
More than half of the U.S respondents were confident that personal finances (70%), immediate spending intentions (58%) and job prospects (56%) would be good or excellent in the next 12 months—each indicator showed improvement from the first quarter.
Personal finance sentiment and immediate spending intentions increased two percentage points each in the second quarter and the outlook for jobs rose four percentage points.
Despite concerns over the recent flood of refugees and the ongoing threat of terrorism, Americans listed the economy (34%) as their biggest and second biggest concern.
Americans listed worries about health (17%), terrorism (17%), debt (15%) and job security (14%).
Anxieties about political stability increased 10 percentage points from last year (Q2 2015) to 14% of respondents in the second quarter—a level that held steady from the first quarter in this presidential election year.
“With U.S. unemployment at a rate of 5% or below since August 2015 and the housing market continuing to expand, American consumers have been spending,” said Louise Keely, senior vice president, Nielsen, and president, The Demand Institute. “However, not all sectors are benefiting equally. Packaged goods retail sectors and value oriented retail channels, in particular, are experiencing slower growth than that of overall consumer spending.”
Other notable global highlights include:
- India slips six index points to 128 as costlier fuel, rising inflation and monsoon concerns depressed sentiment.
- The drop in Indian consumer confidence echoes cautious views from fast moving consumer goods companies, which reported slow sales growth in the April-June quarter.
- Optimism of Filipino consumers surged by 13 points to 13, putting it in the lead position.
- U.S. consumer confidence maintained positive momentum in the second quarter, increasing three points to 113 from the previous quarter.
- Japan’s confidence was of particular significance since it decreased four points to 69; it was Japan’s fourth consecutive quarter of declining scores, largely due to weak consumption and wage growth.
- China’s score increased one point to 106.
- Latin America: confidence remained at 78, unchanged from the first quarter.
- Middle East/Africa: confidence was stable at 89, a one-point increase from the first quarter.
- Europe: Germany’s confidence decreased one point to 96.
“Global economic growth continues to be sluggish, with wide variation in growth rates,” said Keely. “Economic concerns such as weak commodity prices and job prospects, and political concerns, such as terrorism and political stability, have been higher among consumers in countries directly affected by situations such as terrorist attacks or soft commodity demand. Still, in many markets, consumer spending continues to be a bright spot. Consumer confidence has remained stable on average over the past several quarters.”
About the survey
The second-quarter online survey was conducted May 9–27, 2016. The findings in this survey are based on an online methodology in 63 countries. While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective only on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration is still growing, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Three sub-Saharan African countries (Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria) utilize a mobile survey methodology and are not included in the global or Middle East/Africa averages discussed throughout this report. In addition, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data. Cultural differences in reporting sentiment are likely factors in the measurement of economic outlook across countries. The reported results do not attempt to control or correct for these differences; therefore, caution should be exercised when comparing across countries and regions, particularly across regional boundaries.