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Global Consumer Confidence Improved in Q4

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The Conference Board® Global Consumer Confidence Survey shows the beginning of a modest recovery in some regions—but COVID-19 uncertainty remains a driving factor

NEW YORK, Jan. 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Global consumer confidence increased in the fourth quarter of 2020, driven largely by an improved outlook for personal finances—which, in many regions, reflect unprecedented fiscal measures in response to COVID-19. Prospects for jobs and spending intentions saw smaller improvements in Q4, according to The Conference Board® Global Consumer Confidence Survey.

Conducted in collaboration with Nielsen, the survey found that overall global consumer confidence climbed to 98 in Q4 2020, up six points from 92 in Q2 2020. A reading below 100 is considered negative, indicating that consumers were slightly more pessimistic than optimistic globally. Fifty of 67 markets saw a rise in confidence in Q4 as economic activity resumed and vaccine development advanced quickly. (Q4 indexes exclude China due to data collection restraints.)

“While the vaccine sets the stage for a global economic recovery,” said Dana Peterson, Chief Economist of The Conference Board, “the timing of that revival and the pickup in consumer confidence—whether in 2021 or beyond—will vary markedly between advanced and emerging economies depending on the degree of access to vaccines.”

Elizabeth Crofoot, Senior Economist at The Conference Board, added: “In North America, Asia-Pacific, and the Gulf, confidence has remained at least marginally optimistic—above 100—throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, capped by strong gains in Q4. Latin America also recovered strongly from historically low confidence earlier in 2020. But Europe reveals the precariousness of pandemic recovery, with an especially intense second wave leaving consumers deeply pessimistic in Q4.”

Additional takeaways include:

Four critical dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis will shape global confidence in the coming months:

Globally, consumers continued to reduce discretionary spending:

“Fiscal relief packages have helped keep consumers afloat worldwide,” said Denise Dahlhoff, Senior Researcher, Consumer Research, at The Conference Board. “However, pandemic conditions have changed spending patterns, as housebound consumers limit expenses on vacations and out-of-home entertainment. In some countries, including the US, fiscal support and reduced spending have left people more money for paying off debt as well as for home improvements.”

Confidence improved across all regions as fiscal support measures shored up personal finances and health and economic concerns eased. But regional disparities reveal the continued unpredictability of pandemic impacts worldwide:

About The Conference BoardThe Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.


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