Once we’ve covered our essential living expenses, how do we spend the money left over? Whether we stash our spare cash for retirement, invest it to try and make more, or purchase new products, strategies differ around the world.
In the fourth quarter of 2015, saving and investing intention levels were highest in Asia-Pacific (61% and 37%, respectively), as was spending on holidays/vacations (44%), new clothes (41%), new technology (34%) and out-of-home entertainment (34%). Some spending/saving strategies took on greater importance in certain regions. For example, intentions to pay off debts were a priority in Latin America (35%), and intentions to spend on home improvement projects showed the highest regional percentage in North America (25%). Plans to save for retirement were highest in Asia-Pacific and North America at 16% each.
Nearly one-quarter of Middle East/Africa respondents (23%) said they had no spare cash in the fourth quarter—the highest-level regionally, followed by 18% in Europe, 17% in Latin America, 11% in North America and 5% in Asia-Pacific.
For those who intend to change spending activities in order to save, the top strategy in every region except the Middle East/Africa was spending less on new clothes (cutting down on take-away meals edged out new clothes spending in the Middle East/Africa by just one percentage point). Reducing take-away meals was also one of the top three savings strategies in North America.
Cutting back on out-of-home entertainment was one of the top three savings strategies in every region, with the highest level reported in Latin America (53%).
Saving on gas and electricity was one of the top three strategies in Asia-Pacific and Latin America, while in Europe, switching to cheaper grocery brands was a top approach, exceeding the global average by 15 percentage points (49%).
Of the various ways consumers cut back, Latin American respondents showed the highest spending-restraint levels for seven of 15 saving strategies. Saving on gas and electricity was particularly high in the region, exceeding the global average by 12 percentage points (50%). Europe showed the highest spending restraint for five saving strategies.
Other findings include:
Global consumer confidence declined two points from the third quarter to 97 – the same score as the start of the year.
In the U.S., the percentage who believed they were in recession fell to 47%, the lowest level seen since Nielsen began tracking recessionary sentiment in 2008.
Fears about terrorism escalated to new highs in North America and Europe.
Consumer confidence in the third quarter increased in 26 of 61 markets measured by Nielsen (43% of measured markets).
Consumer confidence in all three sub-Saharan markets measured by Nielsen (Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya) finished 2015 above an index score of 100.