Europe’s Gloom Continues as Job Worries Plague Consumers
Staff Writer, CNBC.com
The clouds hanging over European consumers and dampening spending show no sign of lifting, as consumer confidence in the region continues to be the lowest in the world.
Indian consumers are now the most confident in the world, followed closely by Indonesia, despite economic problems this year, as its young population prepares to snap up consumer goods. (Read More: India's Secret Weapon Its Young Population).
European consumer confidence, at 74 on the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence in the third quarter, was far below that of any other region in the world, although it rose slightly from the previous quarter.
It was much lower than the U.S., where consumer confidence rose to 90 on the Nielsen index, up by 3 points from the previous quarter.
Globally, 62 percent of respondents thought they were in a recession, up from 57 percent in the previous quarter.
The Nielsen survey is carried out online, so may disproportionately reflect the sentiments of younger consumers.
Concerns about job security was the issue keeping most Europeans out of the shops, with 16 percent citing worries about unemployment as their biggest concern.
The economy is the most pressing worry for 14 percent, while rising utility bills are the biggest worry for 10 percent of those surveyed.
Utility companies are coming under increased pressure from governments to keep a lid on bills.
And close to two-thirds of those surveyed are cutting down to save on their most basic household expenses, with cutting down on spending on new clothes the most popular way of saving money.
This has already been seen in dwindling sales for many retailers across the continent – although cut-price clothes shops like Primark, owned by ABF, have had a good recession.
Consumer confidence was at its lowest ebb in Hungary, although the struggling southen European economies of Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain weren't far behind.
Europe's increasing economic divide was signaled by the rising levels of confidence among consumers in Switzerland - the biggest riser among countries measured globally by Nielsen with a 10 index points rise – Belgium and Norway.
"The third quarter was subdued, with a degree of restraint among consumers in Europe," Nielsen European president Christophe Cambournac said in a statement.
"The region still faces a tough economic situation, despite some recent stabilizing policy initiatives by the European Central Bank.
While there are pockets of recovery, growth in Europe is likely to remain a big challenge over the next year, with the major European economies currently in or on the edge of recession."
-By CNBC's Catherine Boyle, Follow her on Twitter @cboylecnbc