BRUCHSAL: Purchasing power levels are rising in Europe, despite the challenging conditions currently observable in many countries across the region.

Research firm GFK reported that shoppers from 42 markets boast a combined €7.9bn ($10.8bn; £6.8bn) with which to buy consumer goods in 2010.

This constituted a 2.1% improvement on 2009, and equated to €11,945 per person covering all the nations featured in the analysis.

While arguing such an increase could represent the "beginning of a recovery" from the financial crisis, the company also suggested affluent economies were struggling for growth.

"There are … no major shifts in the purchasing power levels of the wealthier countries evaluated by the study, with the exception of Sweden," it said.

"Here per capita purchasing power rose significantly due to the revised 2009 figures and 2010 exchange rate fluctuations."

Germany, France and Italy retained the top three places in the annual rankings, according to GfK's estimates.

However, although the last of these nations recorded a total of €985.5bn, its per capita score of €16,333 fell in the middle of the pack, and people living in Milan typically carried 21% more fiscal muscle than those in Rome.

The Baltic states suffered particularly heavily during the downturn, and Estonia was the leading player in this area, albeit with a median amount of just €4,938.

Staying in Eastern Europe, Slovenia overtook Portugal and registered an individual budget of €10,045, making it the most successful of the recent additions to the European Union.

Elsewhere, residents of Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus generally enjoyed less than one-third of the standard expenditure.

Among the markets witnessing favourable trends was Finland, posting a 3.2% uptick to €17,500, a figure that was considerably greater in Helsinki and its environs.

Turkey also strengthened its position in the recession, to €5,107, but 28% of domestic disposable income is concentrated around Istanbul, which has a purchasing power density 14 times higher than Ankara.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff