Historic drop in consumer confidence

© Hollandse Hoogte / Ramon van Flymen
Consumer confidence has plummeted in April on account of the COVID-19 crisis, as reported today by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). The consumer confidence indicator stands at -22, down from -2 in March. This is the largest decline ever measured, but not an all-time low. Both opinions on the economic climate and consumers’ willingness to buy have deteriorated significantly.

At -22, the consumer confidence indicator in April stands far below its long-term average over the past two decades (-5). The indicator reached an all-time high (36) in January 2000 and an all-time low (-41) in March 2013.

Consumer confidence, seasonally adjusted
YearMonthbalance (average of the component questions)
2016May7
2016June11
2016July9
2016August9
2016September12
2016October17
2016November20
2016December21
2017January21
2017February22
2017March24
2017April26
2017May23
2017June23
2017July25
2017August26
2017September23
2017October23
2017November22
2017December25
2018January24
2018February23
2018March24
2018April25
2018May23
2018June23
2018July23
2018August21
2018September18
2018October15
2018November13
2018December9
2019January0
2019February-2
2019March -4
2019April-3
2019May-3
2019June0
2019July2
2019August0
2019September-2
2019October-1
2019November-2
2019December-2
2020January-3
2020February-2
2020March-2
2020April-22

Opinions on the economic climate over the next twelve months never this negative

Consumers are substantially more negative about the economic situation than they were in the previous month. The component indicator Economic climate has deteriorated from -8 in March to -31 in April. Never before have consumers been as negative about the economic climate in the next twelve months as in April. The previous low was in November 2011, during the eurozone crisis. As for the economic climate over the past twelve months, consumer sentiment in April is almost as positive as in March.

Economic situation 12 months to come
YearMonthbalance (balance % positive en % negative answers)
2016May-19
2016June2
2016July-3
2016August2
2016September7
2016October2
2016November13
2016December23
2017January36
2017February43
2017March38
2017April42
2017May34
2017June37
2017July36
2017August45
2017September41
2017October49
2017November45
2017December50
2018January53
2018February51
2018March52
2018April52
2018May45
2018June49
2018July46
2018August46
2018September46
2018October36
2018November38
2018December28
2019January25
2019February25
2019March25
2019April21
2019May28
2019June29
2019July23
2019August11
2019September12
2019October5
2019November-11
2019December-13
2020January-6
2020February0
2020March-14
2020April-78

Historic drop in consumers’ willingness to buy

Consumers’ willingness to buy has also plummeted. This component indicator stands at -17, down from 2 in March, the single largest decline in history. Consumer opinions about their financial situation in the next twelve months have fallen drastically. Consumers also find this a much more unfavourable time to make large purchases than in March. The deterioration of these two components of consumer’s willingness to buy is unparalleled. However, consumers’ opinions on their financial situation over the past twelve months have improved.

Majority of consumers expect unemployment to rise

The question whether or not someone has a job plays an important role in their willingness to buy. Consumers’ unemployment expectations have deteriorated significantly in April. This deterioration was also the largest ever recorded. Approximately 85 percent of the respondents expect unemployment to rise in the twelve months to come, whereas 8 percent anticipate a drop. The balance of positive and negative answers stands at -78. The all-time low was -88 in March 1993.

Expectations on unemployment
YearMonthbalance (balance % positive and % negative answers)
2016May-19
2016June2
2016July-3
2016August2
2016September7
2016October2
2016November13
2016December23
2017January36
2017February43
2017March38
2017April42
2017May34
2017June37
2017July36
2017August45
2017September41
2017October49
2017November45
2017December50
2018January53
2018February51
2018March52
2018April52
2018May45
2018June49
2018July46
2018August46
2018September46
2018October36
2018November38
2018December28
2019January25
2019February25
2019March25
2019April21
2019May28
2019June29
2019July23
2019August11
2019September12
2019October5
2019November-11
2019December-13
2020January-6
2020February0
2020March-14
2020April-78

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