Overall, consumer confidence in Europe experienced very positive growth in the fourth quarter of 2016. The GfK consumer climate for the 28 EU countries rose by 5.6 points to 17.9 points in December, its highest value since January 2008. Over the year, the individual indicators – economic and income expectationss and propensity to buy – did not develop uniformly.
The topics dominating headlines in Europe during the fourth quarter of 2016 were the war in Syria, terrorism in Europe, the US presidential election at the end of November, and the continued rise of nationalist parties and tendencies in virtually all European countries. It is clearly evident, however, that all this negative news has not rubbed off on consumers. It appears that Europeans are being increasingly selective as to precisely which topics they allow to have an influence on their daily lives. As a result, the economic and income expectation and propensity to buy indicators have been largely unaffected by the war in Syria, developments in Turkey, the US presidential election, and the ongoing threat of terror in Europe. Instead, economic growth figures in the individual countries have played a more significant role. Consequently, the GfK consumer climate for the 28 EU countries rose by 5.6 points to 17.9 points between September and December.
Economic expectations only recover slowly in Belgium
Belgian economic expectations increased by 2.3 points between September and December. However, at just 4.8 points in December, the indicator was 10.8 points down on the same time in the previous year. It appears that Belgian consumers believe the economy will grow only slightly in the coming months.
Income expectations were also only able to achieve a slight increase from September, rising by 2.2 points to -13.1 points in December. While this nevertheless indicates that Belgians still assume incomes will experience only weak growth over the next few months, this figure is still more than three points higher than in December 2015.
Belgian consumers' propensity to buy is very strong in comparison with the low economic and income expectations. The indicator stood at 16 points in December, which is 1.8 points more than in September.
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