U.S. consumer confidence in Q3 improved three index points to 90, the second highest U.S index score in four years, while more than 80 percent of U.S. respondents said they believe the country is still in a recession, according to consumer confidence findings from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 29,000 Internet consumers in 58 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.
Concerning personal finances, 54 percent of U.S. respondents said they expect their situation to be good or excellent over the next 12 months. Almost one third (32%) of respondents said they did not change their spending habits to save on household expenses, up from 27 percent in Q2 2012.
“The mix of optimism about personal finances and pessimism about the overall economy is consistent with what Nielsen has been seeing: an uncertain, pragmatic consumer, but one eager to jump on a good value,” said James Russo, VP, global consumer insights, Nielsen. “As we head into the holidays, it’s possible the tight budgets of the past few years may loosen for the right offer. Also, recent improvements in gas prices and the unemployment rate may help loosen purse strings as well.”
Strategies for Saving Money
According to Nielsen’s Q3 2012 survey, U.S. online consumers’ top five strategies for saving on household expenses include saving on gas/electricity (62%), cutting back on out-of home entertainment (57%), spending less on clothes (57%), switching to cheaper grocery brands (53%) and cutting back on take-out meals (52%).
Once the economy improves, the top three cost-saving measures U.S. respondents said they plan to continue include saving on gas/electricity (51%), switching to cheaper grocery brands (33%) and continuing to cut back on take-home meals (32%).
When asked where they plan to spend spare cash, U.S. respondents with extra money listed savings (35%), paying off debt (33%), new clothes, (24%), and vacations or out-of-home entertainment (tied at 21%) as the top five choices. The option ’I have no spare cash’ was chosen by 26 percent of U.S. respondents.