For the first time in nine years, India's consumer confidence index has soared to levels of 134 for the March 2016 quarter, pointing to optimism that people here feel about job prospects, personal finance and spending. It was in the first half of 2007 that India had achieved a consumer confidence index of 135 ahead of Norway, which was then ranked second globally with an index of 132.
While Nielsen, the market research agency that measures global consumer confidence, has moved to a quarterly reporting structure since 2009, India's 134-point index comes after three successive quarters of a score of 131 for it.
In the post-Lehman era, India has been topping Nielsen's consumer confidence index for the last eight quarters, despite signs of a slowdown. The index is prepared after surveying 30,000 respondents with internet access in 63 countries. For the March 2016 quarter, Nielsen has reported consumer confidence levels for 61 countries, with the Philippines (119) and Indonesia (117) coming second and third globally in terms of consumer confidence after India.
Roosevelt D'Souza, Nielsen's India region managing director, pins down the three-point jump seen by the country in the quarter under review to the positive environment around. "The Union Budget presented by the finance minister at the end of February this year revealed the government's commitment to fiscal consolidation as well as paving the way for sustained and inclusive growth. In the days following the announcement, an improvement in various macroeconomic indicators was evident, which is optimal for improved consumer spending," he says.
Specifically, 83 per cent of urban Indian respondents remained optimistic about job prospects in the country for the quarter under review, which was the highest globally. When it came to the state of personal finances, 85 per cent of urban Indian respondents were optimistic again, while 66 per cent Indians felt that it was a good time to spend.
At the global level, consumer confidence moved up one index point to 98 in the March 2016 quarter versus the three months ended December 2015. US consumer confidence, Nielsen said, showed resilience amid a strong job market and a rise in consumer spending intentions as well as an intent to pay off debts. While most of Europe (including UK and Germany), Latin America, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Canada, China and Hong Kong saw confidence levels decline.
"While the global consumer confidence index has been largely unchanged over the past several quarters, beneath that we see a fair amount of variation in the confidence of individual countries," said Louise Keely, senior vice-president, Nielsen. "There is no one cause behind these rises and falls in confidence; the reasons are market-specific," she said.
In the quarter under review, consumer confidence improved in 33 per cent of measured markets (20 of 61 markets), compared with 43 per cent of measured markets showing an increase in the fourth quarter of 2015.