LONDON: A majority of consumers in markets like France and Germany have increased their expenditure in the last ten years, but many are cautious about their prospects for the next decade.

Harris Interactive, the research firm, conducted a survey of 6,182 adults in France, Germany, Spain, the UK and US on behalf of the Financial Times, the daily newspaper.

Some 43% of Americans said they were "optimistic" about the coming decade, compared with 41% of Spaniards, 37% of Germans, 31% of Italians, 29% of Britons and 21% of respondents in France.

In-keeping with this trend, the panel in France was the most "pessimistic", with 44% of participants expressing negative sentiments regarding their possible personal situation in the next ten years.

This total stood at 36% in the UK, 33% in the US, 29% in Germany, and 28% in both Spain and Italy, Harris Interactive found.

More than four in ten of those polled in Germany, Spain and the US viewed their living standards as having got better since the turn of the millennium, but a similar number of the French cohort took the opposite stance.

Looking forward, 29% of contributors predicted that their standard of living would improve over the period to 2020, reaching a high of 39% in the US, and falling to a low of 20% in France.

By contrast, 41% of respondents expected day-to-day conditions to get worse, a figure which topped 50% in France and 40% in Germany and Italy.

When assessing purchase behaviour, 61% of the sample in Spain had boosted their spending levels in 2009 when compared with the start of the decade.

Some 58% of Italians had taken a similar approach, as had 57% of their counterparts in France, 51% of Germans and Britons, and 49% of Americans.

However, 22% of shoppers reported that they have reduced their outlay in this timeframe, climbing to almost 30% in the US.

"The current economic uncertainty is hitting home with citizens of these six countries, especially the French, and many people are taking a wait and see approach to what this new decade will bring," Harris Interactive's study concluded.

Data sourced from Harris Interactive; additional content by Warc staff