Gloom grows among European consumers

19 October 2011

NUREMBERG: Consumers in Europe are in highly negative mood when it comes to their personal financial circumstances and a willingness to make major purchases, a new report shows.

GfK, the research firm, has released the results of its latest Consumer Maxx Survey, conducted on behalf of the European Union in 12 markets, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, and found that sentiment had declined across a range of metrics.

"In the second quarter it appeared that the recession had bottomed out in Europe," GfK said. "Faced with the ongoing debate about a Greek bailout and the worsening debt crisis in France and Italy European consumers are noticeably unsettled once again."

When assessing economic expectations, the average score stood at -37 points, suggesting that sentiment levels have "more or less collapsed" across the region, the study stated.

As such, Germany saw a contraction from 50 points in June to just five points at present. Austria's current figure of -26 points also constituted a significant decline on the 20 points recorded earlier this year.

Contributors in France were among the most pessimistic, on -42 points, versus -15 points in the previous research round. The UK witnessed a slide from -17 points to -30 points.

Elsewhere, on the barometer tracking how respondents viewed their income prospects, Greece registered –59 points, as did Portugal, mirroring the current financial troubles facing the two nations.

Participants from France expressed equally considerable concerns about falling earnings, on -52 points, and their Italian counterparts posted a 15-point decrease here, to -43 points.

This left Germany as a lone voice of optimism, with interviewees in Europe's largest economy the only ones to deliver a positive total, on 35 points, measured against a continent-wide average of -41 points.

Similarly, German shoppers were unusual in supplying a favourable rating in terms of the likelihood of making big-ticket purchases, on 30 points. Austria also generated 26 points on this metric.

However, Bulgaria, in third place, logged -2 points, demonstrating that attitudes throughout the rest of Europe are much less encouraging, a trend confirmed by the average return of -27 points covering the entire suirvey area.

Figures reached a low in Portugal on -50 points, the UK on -49 points and Romania on –38 points. France also lodged -32 points, although sentiment in Spain proved relatively resilient on -16 points.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff