Press Release

U.S. consumers remain confident in the face of political uncertainty

Press Release

U.S. consumers remain confident in the face of political uncertainty

New York, NY, August 2, 2016 — In the midst of a contentious presidential election season, consumer confidence in the U.S. is on the rise, according to the latest Consumer Confidence Index data released today by Nielsen. Despite the uncertainty and starkly contrasting rhetoric around key economic issues, Americans remained optimistic in the second quarter with a three-point confidence increase to 113. In contrast, the global consumer confidence index for the same period was flat at 98.

Established in 2005, the Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index is fielded quarterly in 63 countries to measure the perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances, immediate spending intentions, and related economic issues of real consumers around the world. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively.

U.S. highlights

  • U.S. consumer confidence maintained positive momentum in the second quarter, increasing three points to 113 from the previous quarter.
  • U.S. confidence has been at or above the optimism baseline of 100 for more than two years (since Q1 2014).
  • Despite public discourse surrounding refugees, immigration and the ongoing threat of terrorism, Americans listed the economy (34%) as their biggest or second biggest concern. Health (17%), terrorism (17%), debt (15%), and job security (14%) were also cited by Americans as their biggest or second-biggest concern.
  • Anxieties about political stability increased 10 percentage points from last year (Q2 2015) to 14% of respondents in the second quarter—a level that held steady from the first quarter of 2016.
  • More than half of U.S respondents were confident that personal finances (70%), immediate spending intentions (58%), and job prospects (56%) would be good or excellent in the next 12 months—each indicator showed improvement from the first quarter.
  • Personal finance sentiment and immediate spending intentions increased two percentage points each in the second quarter and the outlook for jobs rose four percentage points.

“With U.S. unemployment at a rate of 5% or below since August 2015 and the housing market continuing to expand, American consumers have been spending,” said Louise Keely, senior vice president, Nielsen, and president, The Demand Institute. “However, not all sectors are benefiting equally. Packaged goods retail sectors and value oriented retail channels, in particular, are experiencing slower growth than that of overall consumer spending.”

Other notable global highlights

  • In Asia-Pacific, confidence was relatively stable at 107, a one-point decrease from the first quarter. Japan’s confidence was of particular significance since it decreased four points to 69; it was Japan’s fourth consecutive quarter of declining scores, amid weak consumption and wage growth. Japan’s GDP has been on a declining trend since 1997 and is currently at 0.5%. Japan’s exports fell for the eighth consecutive month in May. China’s score increased one point to 106.
  • In Latin America, confidence remained at 78, unchanged from the first quarter. Brazil’s score was flat at 74, while Peru’s score increased 11 points to 102.  
  • In the Middle East/Africa, confidence was stable at 89, a one-point increase from the first quarter. The United Arab Emirates’ second-quarter score reversed a four-point decline in the first quarter with a five-point increase to 109.
  • In Europe, confidence in Germany decreased one point to 96. Meanwhile, Nordic countries and Eastern Europe showed confidence increases in the second quarter.

“Global economic growth continues to be sluggish, with wide variation in growth rates,” said Keely. “Economic concerns such as weak commodity prices and job prospects, and political concerns, such as terrorism and political stability, have been higher among consumers in countries directly affected by situations such as terrorist attacks or soft commodity demand. Still, in many markets, consumer spending continues to be a bright spot. Consumer confidence has remained stable on average over the past several quarters.”

To download the full report, click here.

About the Nielsen global survey of consumer confidence and spending intentions

The second-quarter online survey was conducted May 9–27, 2016. The findings in this survey are based on an online methodology in 63 countries. While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective only on the habits of existing internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration is still growing, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Three sub-Saharan African countries (Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria) utilize a mobile survey methodology and are not included in the global or Middle East/Africa averages discussed throughout this report. In addition, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data. Cultural differences in reporting sentiment are likely factors in the measurement of economic outlook across countries. The reported results do not attempt to control or correct for these differences; therefore, caution should be exercised when comparing across countries and regions, particularly across regional boundaries.  

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. The Company’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Nielsen Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content—video, audio and text—is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit

Media contact

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