Dutch consumers more positive than their European counterparts

11/07/2006 14:00

Dutch consumer confidence has improved significantly in the course of one year according to the European Commission (EC). Increases in consumer confidence in other EU member states were more modest. Dutch consumers are particularly optimistic about future employment. During the past fifteen years, the average Dutch consumer’s attitude has been more positive than in the rest of Europe.

Improvement consumer confidence most apparent in the Netherlands

According to the EU definition, Dutch consumer confidence stood at 16 in June this year, i.e. 21 points higher than twelve months ago. Consumer confidence also improved noticeably in Estonia and Germany, but no EU member state can match the Netherlands. The average improvement of June’s consumer confidence index in the EU was 5 points compared with the same month in 2005. In six EU countries, the index declined over the past year.

Change in consumer confidence EU countries
Change in consumer confidence EU countries

More optimistic about future employment

The increase of the Dutch consumer confidence index is mainly the result of widespread optimism in the EU about employment prospects. Dutch consumers also felt more positive last year about the future of the economy and their own financial situation.

Consumer confidence on the way up

Recently, Dutch consumer confidence has been on the way up, but the index has been low for a long time. In the summer of 2003, it reached its lowest level, when it dropped to -19. Subsequently, consumer confidence remained low, but in the last nine months it has improved remarkably. In December 2005, the index crossed the zero line, implying that from that moment on optimists outnumbered pessimists. Consumer confidence in the EU also improved, but is still well below zero.

Consumer confidence in the Netherlands and the EU
Consumer confidence in the Netherlands and the EU

Dutch consumers more optimistic than their European counterparts

European consumer confidence averaged -11 between January 1990 and June 2006. This means that pessimists prevailed over optimists in the EU during the past fifteen years. Scandinavians were among the most optimistic consumers in the EU. The Netherlands belongs to the five countries in the EU, where consumers were on average optimistic in this period.

Average consumer confidence, January 1990–June 2006
Average consumer confidence, January 1990–June 2006

Karlijn Bakker