Friday, June 5, 2009

Global consumers still lack confidence in economy: poll

Just over two-thirds of the world's consumers believe that economic prospects are neutral to poor, according to a new global poll released Tuesday.

Ipsos-Reid said only 29 per cent of 23,000 individuals in 23 countries queried between April 14 and May 7 believed the economic situation was "very good or somewhat good."

That number was marginally worse, by two percentage points, compared to the pollster's November reading, when 31 per cent of respondents answered "yes" to Ipsos-Reid's confidence question.

"There are glimmers of hope for the global economy. Indeed, after three straight semesters of decline, global consumer confidence has stabilized," said Darrell Bricker and Clifford Young, of Ipsos-Reid Global Public Affairs.

A 29% positive picture

Still, the April sounding, taken in conjunction with the Reuters news service, meant that more than two-thirds of 75 per cent of the world's population held a negative view of the planet's economic prospects.

As a result, 73 per cent of individuals have cut or plan to cut personal spending, mainly on vacations, entertainment and luxury items.

But, 41 per cent of respondents said they were also chopping expenditures on food and another 11 per cent cited "education" as an area for cost savings.

No warm and fuzzy here

All told, the Ipsos-Reid poll painted a bleak picture of consumer confidence.

The current level of positive sentiment concerning the economy was 14 percentage points less than the 43 per cent polled last April, when many countries were seeing slowing GDP growth. But the recession was still months off.

Consumers seeing economy as positive(%)April '09 29 November '08 31 April '08 43 October '07 54 April '07 55 Source: Ipsos-Reid

India and China, the new stars of the world's economy, remained the areas exhibiting the highest levels of confidence in growth potential, at 70 per cent and 61 per cent respectively.

On the other end of this spectrum sat Italy, at eight per cent, France, at 11 per cent, and the United States, at 13 per cent.

Most people blamed bankers for the global economic freeze, ranging from 68 per cent in Hungary to 19 per cent in Turkey.

In Canada, 38 per cent of respondents cited the financial system as the culprit for the world-wide depression and 27 per cent pointed the finger of blame at the previous U.S. administration.

Interestingly, 13 per cent of Turks blamed the current government in Washington for the global economic crisis compared to 19 per cent who said the Bush administration caused the credit crunch.

Ipsos-Reid said its poll was accurate 95 per cent of the time with a 3.1 per cent margin of error.