Retail optimism grows

Retail optimism grows
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More than half of Australian consumers believe the next 12 months will be a good time to buy things they want and need – a significant rise from retail sentiments last quarter, a new report has revealed.

According to findings from The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, 55% of people are optimistic about retail spending over the next year, up from 42% the previous quarter.

The report measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 29,000 Internet consumers in 58 countries.  

Despite a three point fall in Australian consumer confidence overall to 95 in Q4 2012, consumers signalled renewed hopes for a positive retail environment for 2013. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.

Chris Percy, MD, Nielsen Pacific said: “Pleasingly, the survey results point to renewed hopes for a positive retail environment in 2013. Despite a slight drop in consumer confidence, the figures show a turning point in the financial stability of most Australians.

“The number of consumers signaling their intention to buy the things they want or need over the coming year indicates a shift to positive sentiment when it comes to consumer spending, helping retailers to breathe a sigh of relief.”

Nielsen analysis shows that consumer savings intentions dropped this quarter by 1% on last quarter, signalling that Australians continue to become more comfortable with spending.

“Globally, we have seen a drop in savings by three percentage points, and Australia is following that trend. Locally, retailers can breathe a sigh of relief as consumers become more comfortable with their discretionary spending.

“When asked how they will use spare cash after covering essential living expenses, one in four said they would buy new clothes and one in three intends to put their spare cash towards holidaying.”

Australian consumers also continue to be confident in their job prospects, with close to half (44%) anticipating employment opportunities would be “good” or “excellent” in the coming year – a one percentage point change from quarter three (45%).

Global consumer confidence saw a one point decline in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 91 when compared with quarter three, but an increase of two points from quarter four 2011.

Consumer confidence fell in Europe by three points (71) and one point in the United States (89), while Asia-Pacific (101) and Latin America (96) reported consumer confidence increases of one and two index points respectively. The Middle East/Africa fell four points to 96.

Of the 58 countries surveyed, North America posted the most significant decline in confidence over the past year, down 15 points to 71 in quarter four 2012.

Europe followed suit with confidence falling in 20 of 29 countries. The biggest European decline was reported in Belgium, down 14 points from last quarter to 74; while Greece fell by 11 points to 35.

While the Asia-Pacific region reported the highest levels of confidence overall, it still experienced declines in eight of its 14 markets in quarter four compared to quarter three 2012, with four-point declines in Hong Kong and Taiwan. 

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