We’re still pretty pessimistic, just a little less so

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We’re still pretty pessimistic, just a little less so

Consumer confidence in Korea improved some in the third quarter, but the country remained the most pessimistic in Asia as it has since the last quarter of 2010, according to a report by Nielsen yesterday.

Korea’s consumer confidence rose three points to 54 compared to the previous quarter, compared to an average score of 94 for the 60 countries surveyed.

Nielsen’s Global Consumer Confidence Report surveys 30,000 persons online about consumer confidence, concerns and spending plans.

Based on 100 points, the index measures the degree of economic optimism or pessimism. A score of more than 100 indicates optimism and below 100 pessimism.

According to the global survey, consumer sentiment has brightened in all regions except for Asia, which was down one point to 104 from the second quarter.

North America scored 98, up two points; South America 94, up one point; Europe 74, up three points; and the Middle East and Africa 92, up one point.

Consumer confidence in Asia declined for the first time since the second quarter of 2012, but the seven most optimistic countries were in Asia, including Indonesia at 120, which topped the index for the third consecutive quarter.

In particular, the survey found that economic stability was the biggest concern of 29 percent of Koreans, followed by job security at 27 percent. Job security was the No. 1 concern in the previous quarter.

Other concerns cited by Korean respondents were work and life balance (26 percent), health (20 percent), and welfare and happiness of parents (17 percent).

In addition, more than seven of 10, or 71 percent, of those surveyed changed consumption patterns during the quarter to reduce household spending, compared to the same period last year.

Specifically, 63 percent reduced eating out, 48 percent cut back on clothes purchases and 44 percent bought cheaper food brands.

“While consumer confidence rose on all continents except for Asia, Korea’s consumer confidence also showed signs of recovery in the third quarter. In particular, consumer confidence showed high gains in North America, Europe and Japan. It remains to be seen whether Korea’s consumer confidence, sensitive to the global economy, will continue to rise in the future,” said Shin Eun-hee, CEO of Nielsen Korea.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]
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