Economic Optimism in Europe is Slow and Steady

Economic Optimism in Europe is Slow and Steady

Economic Optimism in Europe is Slow and Steady

The FINANCIAL -- Consumer confidence in Europe increased in 72 percent of markets measured in the second quarter, with only six of 32 markets reporting declines. Denmark (106), Belgium (80), Romania (73) and Italy (51) reported the biggest quarter-on-quarter regional increases of six points each. Confidence increases were also reported in the Netherlands (81), Ukraine (61) and Croatia (50), with each country rising five points compared to the first quarter, according to the Nielsen Company.

Some of the more stable Western European economies are showing slow, but steady progression in consumer confidence. The U.K. reported a year-over-year jump of 11 points to a score of 90—the country’s highest level since 2007. Russia’s index has increased for three consecutive quarters to a score of 85 in the second quarter, while France’s confidence rose for the second consecutive quarter to 60.

“Shopper confidence in the U.K. has returned to pre-recessionary levels, with households now feeling financially better off and more willing to spend,” said Chris Morley, group managing director, Nielsen U.K. and Ireland. “Over the last year, many more British consumers are feeling positive about their job prospects, with more than one in three now optimistic, compared to just one in four a year ago,” he added.

Though Germany’s index score declined three points in the second quarter to a solid 96, this comes after steady increases over the past two years. Ireland (81), Austria (85), Portugal (48) and Switzerland (99) also reported quarter-on-quarter confidence declines, according to the Nielsen Company.

Europe is a region of diverse economies and cultures. But a nine-year, country-by-country comparison of consumer confidence and recessionary sentiment shines a spotlight on four distinct segments:

The Stalwarts: Consumers in relatively stable Western economies like Germany, the U.K., Austria and France have experienced far more consistent confidence levels and fewer dramatic differences in recessionary sentiment than their European neighbors.

The Recovering Depressives: Many countries in Western Europe, including Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland and Hungary experienced long, slow drops in consumer confidence during and after the Great Recession, in line with their high recessionary sentiments and concerns with their personal finances. The good news is that they’re slowly pulling themselves back up to positions of increased consumer confidence, according to the Nielsen Company.

The (Almost) Dauntless: Confidence in Northern Europe, such as Norway, Switzerland and Sweden remained strong through the Great Recession and the 2011 debt crisis despite sharp increases in recessionary sentiment and slight dips in perceptions of personal finances.

The Bloomers: Developing Eastern European markets, such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, are on slow growth trajectories. These markets experienced ‘fear bubbles’ around the Great Recession and are now recovering slowly but less consistently than their westerly neighbors, according to the Nielsen Company.