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The Beginning of the End?

May 4, 2009
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A monthly scorecard of consumer behavior compiled by The Nielsen Co., New York, finds decreases in shopper activity in 11 major GDP countries appear to be moderating, suggesting a turnaround may be on the horizon.


A monthly scorecard of consumer behavior compiled by The Nielsen Co., New York, finds decreases in shopper activity in 11 major GDP countries appear to be moderating, suggesting a turnaround may be on the horizon.

According to the “Nielsen Economic Current” (NEC), which examines eight key factors (including rate of store brand purchases), 10 of the 11 countries analyzed showed no change from January to February 2008, while Germany actually posted a slight improvement.

"Consumers worldwide appear to be in a holding pattern, and we see evidence that consumer spending might be positioned to turn around," said James Russo, Nielsen's vice president of Global Consumer Insights. "There is no doubt that conditions remain tough for global consumers, with continuing widespread areas of weakness, but levels of decline seem to be moderating."

According to this month's NEC, India and China enjoyed the strongest growth overall among the 11 countries studied (over 5 percent), while Canada and Russia once again posted increases in the 1 to 4 percent range. The United States, on the other hand, registered another loss, thanks largely to a 2.6 percent decline in unit sales across fast-moving consumer goods (FMGC), the eighth straight monthly decrease.
A closer look at the scorecard revealed that consumers in most countries are spending more per shopping trip but cutting back on discretionary spending, particularly out-of-home entertainment, new clothes and high-priced national brand groceries. Not surprisingly, the NEC also revealed a noticeable shift in consumer spending to value channels and store brands.

In the United States, the report noted, unit sales of store brands expanded 6.4 percent, the highest monthly increase since last August. But in Canada, national brands held their own, thanks to a sharp uptick in feature pricing.

Despite some differences, "There are actually a lot of similarities among consumer spending globally," said Jonathan Banks, Business Insight Director for The Nielsen Co. in Europe. "No matter the border, consumers are reining in their spending."

To download the entire report, go to http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/consumer/economic-current-0409.
 

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