Consumer confidence almost stable

After correction for seasonal effects, consumer confidence is -25 in April 2004, 1 point up on March. Consumers’ opinions on the economic climate and on their own financial situation have hardly changed since last month. Consumers are only less negative about buying expensive items than in March, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands’ consumer confidence survey.

Opinions on economic climate hardly changed

Consumers’ opinions on the economic climate in the Netherlands are about the same in April as they were in March. Their opinions on both the past twelve months and the coming twelve months are almost unchanged. A net 33 percent more consumers were pessimistic about the economy than optimistic. Consumers are less negative about the economy than one year ago: in April 2003 there were 62 percent more pessimists than optimists.

Consumers more willing to spend

After correction for seasonal effects, willingness to buy is 2 points higher in April than in March. Willingness to buy is measure by asking consumers whether they think it is a good time to buy expensive durable items and how they assess their own financial situation. Consumers were more positive about buying expensive durables such as furniture and TV’s than in March. Their opinions about their own financial situation has hardly changed. They are still very negative about the situation in the last twelve months; with respect to their financial situation in the coming twelve months, there are slightly more pessimists than optimists.

Confidence higher than last year

Consumer confidence reached a low point in July 2003. Since then it has been rising steadily and it is now 14 points higher than nine months ago. This increase in consumer confidence is nearly completely caused by the more favourable opinions of consumers on the economic situation. This opinion was 30 points higher than in July last year. Willingness to buy has hardly risen in this period, however: with an increase of 4 points it is still way behind the improvement in opinions on the economy. After the low point in 1993, too,  consumers first expressed more faith in the economy; only a year later did they start to spend more.

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