In the first quarter of 2018, consumer sentiment in Europe remained at a relatively stable level. In March, however, the GfK Consumer Climate for the 28 EU states showed a slight decline, reaching a level of 20.6 points. In December 2017, it stood at 21.1 points. For 2018, GfK predicts an increase in private household consumer spending in the European Union from 1.5 to 2 percent in real terms.
The mood of European consumers is proving to be rather less optimistic in the first quarter of 2018 than at the end of last year. Countries that showed strong increases in 2017 have clearly lost points. On average across all EU countries, economic expectations fell in March 2018 to 15 points. This is two points down on December 2017. In France and Austria, in particular, the euphoria appears to have diminished temporarily in the wake of the elections. Consumers in the Czech Republic and Belgium have a far more positive view of the economic development of their countries.
Income expectations continued to rise on average across Europe. They increased by 1.3 points in the first three months to reach 16.3 points in March. Consumers in Great Britain and Bulgaria were particularly optimistic that wages would rise and registered double-digit growth for this indicator. Clear losses were recorded in France and Spain.
The propensity to buy fell on average across the EU by 1.3 points at the beginning of the year and stood at 19.7 points in March. This indicator rose particularly strongly in the Czech Republic (in contrast to most other European countries) and underscores the generally positive mood of Czech consumers.
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