July 15, 2020 / 6:05 PM / 24 days ago

Global consumer confidence plunged in second quarter, rebound likely sluggish: Conference Board

(Reuters) - Global consumer confidence registered a record drop from April through June as the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic registered in full, and the outlook is dim for a quick rebound, the Conference Board found in its latest survey of world attitudes.

FILE PHOTO: An elderly woman wearing a face mask shops in a supermarket, after the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia decided to make wearing protective masks obligatory in shops and public transportation to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bad Honnef near Bonn, Germany, April 27, 2020. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

The conference board’s index of consumer views plunged from a solidly optimistic reading of 106 at the start of the year to a pessimistic level of 92. Anything above 100 is considered positive.

The online poll of 33,000 consumers in 68 countries also pointed to a slow climb back. Confidence in key markets including the United States and much of Europe was expected to “remain depressed for a sustained period” because of rising case counts, uncertainty about jobs and income, and lack of trust in government’s ability to control the pandemic, the survey concluded.

Among major economies only Germany, China, South Korea and Australia were expected to see confidence “rebound fairly quickly.”

“Early signs of economic rebound in several markets do not necessarily portend a quick recovery in consumer confidence in the coming months,” said Bart van Ark, chief economist of the Conference Board, a member organization of large U.S. companies.

The U.S. index was slightly positive, at 101, the result of a survey done in June when the worst of the pandemic seemed to have past and an economic recovery seemed to be taking shape.

Yet the change from the survey covering the first three months of the year was dramatic, dropping from a record high of 123 as the outlook for jobs, personal finance and spending plans all collapsed.

Caseloads have been surging since then, and some U.S. states have reimposed restrictions on business to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Conference Board said the seeds of a potential longer-term shift in consumer patterns may be emerging.

A rising share of respondents say they plan to cut down on meals out and vacations, and more than 20% plan to reduce spending on clothes and out-of-home entertainment on a long-term basis.

Reporting by Howard Schneider in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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