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Nielsen: U.S. consumer confidence up, but growth at retail slow


CHICAGO - Though global consumer confidence remained flat in the second quarter of 2016, confidence in the U.S. maintained positive momentum, increasing three points to 113 from the previous quarter, Nielsen reported Thursday.

More than of half of U.S. respondents were confident that personal finances (70%), immediate-spending intentions (58%) and job prospects (56%) would be good or excellent in the next 12 months. Furthermore, each indicator improved from the first quarter. Personal finance sentiment and immediate-spending intentions increased two percentage points each in the second quarter, and the outlook for jobs rose four percentage points.

“With U.S. unemployment at a rate of 5% or below since August 2015 and the housing market continuing to expand, American consumers have been spending,” stated Louise Keely, SVP Nielsen, and president The Demand Institute. “However, not all sectors are benefiting equally. Packaged good retail sectors, in particular, are experiencing slower growth than that of overall consumer spending. Moreover, retail channels that are more value-oriented have grown more slowly, as price growth—more than volume growth—has driven sales growth," she said. "Value-focused retail channels, such as club retailers and dollar stores, grew more slowly than convenience stores and drug store channels did.”

In the U.S., about one-third of respondents (34%) said the economy was their biggest or second-biggest concern, with that worry followed by terrorism (17%), health (17%), debt (15%) and job security (14%). Anxieties about political stability increased 10 percentage points from the same quarter last year to 14% of respondents—a level that held steady from the first quarter of this year.

In Canada, confidence increased two points to 95 in the second quarter after a six-point decline in the first quarter, as all three confidence indicators improved. More than half of Canadian respondents said personal finances would be good or excellent in the next 12 months (58%), an increase of two percentage points from the first quarter. While favorable job prospect sentiment (41%) and immediate-spending intentions (39%) also increased in the second quarter—rising four and two percentage points, respectively—they remained at relatively low levels.

The economy was the biggest or second-biggest concern for 29% of Canadian respondents, representing no change from the first quarter. Canadian respondents also expressed concern about increasing food prices (25% of respondents, down three percentage points from Q1), health (21%, up five percentage points), debt (20%, down four percentage points) and increasing utility bills (17%, up one percentage point).

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