Consumer confidence is rising, slowly

Canada begins to rebound from its recent three-year low on Nielsen's Consumer Confidence report.
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Canadian consumer confidence is on the rise, albeit slightly, according to Nielsen’s Consumer Confidence report for Q2 2015.

The quarterly survey polls 30,000 people in 60 different countries on a number of different questions relating to their financial prospects and immediate spending habits to create an index that provides a ranking of overall consumer confidence.

Canada’s index, which hit a three-year low in the first quarter of 2015, rose two points to 98. While this is still a far cry from the index of 103 in Q3 of last year, it does bring Canada back above the global average of 97, which itself dropped one point from last quarter.

This also brings Canada closer to the U.S., which dropped six points to 101 on the index.

When asked, 41% of those surveyed said they have immediate spending intentions, up 4% from last quarter when it was at its lowest level since 2012, with those feeling positive about job prospects up one point to 45%. On the other hand, confidence in personal finances dropped one point to 54%, the third consecutive quarter it has declined.

Across North America, 53% of respondents said they were saving money by spending less on clothes, with 50% cutting back on energy costs, 48% on out-of-home entertainment and 46% on both takeout meals and grocery costs. The biggest concerns for people in North America over the coming six months were the economy at 28% and personal debt at 22%, the latter of which was a significantly higher concern for people in North America compared to other regions.

It should be noted that the survey was conducted online in May, just before the Canadian dollar began to slip and economic concerns began to rise. The dollar has dropped from $0.84 USD to $0.77 USD since the survey was conducted, its lowest level in a decade. Over the same period, the S&P/TSX composite index has dropped from 15,204 to 14,001.

Carman Allison, VP of consumer insight for North America at Nielsen, says it is difficult to predict how these recent economic changes will impact overall confidence in Canadian consumers, but feels there are at least some things that could offset negative repercussions that some analysts have been predicting.

“A declining dollar really only impacts consumers when they are exchanging currencies,” he says. “We are seeing food inflation driven by the lower dollar, but the job market is still holding despite the recent shifts in the dollar and the oil industry. A lower dollar is good for exports and US tourism, which may continue to keep the job market holding.”

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