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Signs of Economic Recovery Evident, but Global Consumers Still Not Ready to Loosen Purse Strings

With an increasing amount of global buzz proclaiming the emergence of an economic recovery, the latest edition of the Nielsen Economic Current shows definite signs of renewed consumer confidence and sales growth in some countries. However, with 10 of the 12 countries tracked by Nielsen holding steady in measures of spending from the previous month, there is still no indication of widespread optimism.

"There are hot spots of a recovery," commented James Russo, Vice President, Global Consumer Insights at The Nielsen Company. "However, until the labor market stabilizes and returns to growth in the U.S, spending will continue to be restrained."

As expected, the strongest growth continues to come from the emerging economies of Brazil, China, Hong Kong and India – although all remained unchanged from the previous month. While Taiwan is the only country that showed a measurable gain this month, it essentially remained flat as it was the only country that declined last month. Of note in Brazil, interest rates and unemployment rates are falling with the expansion of industrial activity, and there are signs of recovery in food product categories and non-basic product categories. In Hong Kong, previous growth in household categories due to the H1N1 “swine flu” virus has been slowing, but baby products continue to be the most lucrative category demonstrating the fastest growth.

In North America, Canada continues to outpace the U.S. as evidenced by gains in dollar sales and promotional activity, while in the U.S., frequency of shopper trips and transaction size continued to slow despite aggressive price reductions as consumers remained cautious about the outlook.

Western Europe also remains mired in a prolonged period of sluggishness. However, promotional activity appears to be having a positive effect on sales with the exception of Italy, the only country showing a significant decline this month, where coincidentally, promotional activity also dropped. France saw continued growth in value channels, while unit and dollar sales in Germany remained moderate, and in the UK, there was improvement in volume sales and premium store brands.

Download the latest Nielsen Economic Current.

Nielsen is the parent company of Sales & Marketing Management.

— Nielsen Business Media