Consumer confidence: stronger increase in the Netherlands than in the rest of Europe

According to the European Commission (EC), consumer confidence in the Netherlands improved by more than average in the European Union (EU) between January 2004 and January 2005. The main reason for this was that Dutch consumers are less negative about the future increase in unemployment. In the Netherlands consumer confidence was 8 points higher than twelve months previously, in the EU it rose by an average 3 points.

Strongest increase in the new member states

Within the EU, consumer confidence improved in the new member states in particular. In Slovakia and the Czech Republic confidence was more than 15 points higher in January 2005 than one year previously. Among the old EU countries, Ireland showed a notable increase of 15 points. France and Belgium were the only two countries where consumer confidence deteriorated in this period.

Consumer confidence in EU countries

Consumer confidence in EU countries

Dutch less pessimistic about rising unemployment

Consumer confidence as measured by the EC consists of four component indicators: the financial situation, the general economic situation, willingness to save and the development in unemployment. The EC calculation focuses entirely on the expectations for the future.

Both in the Netherlands and in the EU, consumer opinions on all four indicators improved. However, Dutch consumers are significantly less negative than European consumers about the future rise in unemployment. Opinions on the general economic situation also improved more strongly in the Netherlands than in the EU as a whole.

Component indicators of consumer confidence

Component indicators of consumer confidence

Confidence still low in spite of improvement

Dutch consumers are thus less pessimistic at the start of this year than at the start of last year. In spite of this, consumer confidence is still low: in the last fifteen years consumer confidence was 4 points on average; that is still 8 points higher than the level in January this year.

Karlijn Bakker