Despite a number of African countries being buffeted by falling commodity prices and fluctuating currencies in 2015, the latest Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index results have provided relatively stable overviews of East, West and South Africa, with Nigeria positioned at 127, Ghana at 104, Kenya at 103 and South Africa unchanged at 82.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions index, which was conducted between November 2 and November 25, polled more than 30 000 online consumers in 61 countries.
Consumer confidence levels of above or below a baseline of 100 indicated degrees of optimism and pessimism respectively.
Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria’s results were compiled through a mobile survey methodology.
Nielsen East Africa MD Jacqueline Nyanjom noted that Kenya had seen successive improvements in its quarterly economic growth performance throughout 2015. “However, business sentiment for Kenya remains more skeptical as slower sales offtake – owing to rising inflation – impacts company performance,” she said.
Kenya’s consumer sentiment, while still positive, had also declined from 117 to 103 in the fourth quarter. The country’s current jobs outlook was also notably lower, with 45% of respondents saying they viewed their job prospects in the next 12 months as excellent or good, while 48% viewed their prospects as not so good or bad.
Consumer sentiment about personal finances and immediate spending intentions remained moderate in Kenya, with 58% of respondents believing the state of their personal finances was good or excellent. Thirty-four per cent of Kenyans also felt that it was a good time to spend money, while 61% believed it was not.
NIGERIA & GHANA
Despite Nigeria feeling the continued impact of deteriorating macroeconomic circumstances, owing to the rapidly dropping oil price, it continued to be home to some of the most optimistic consumers on the continent, who displayed positive sentiments about their job prospects and personal finances, even though immediate spending intentions and levels of spare cash were more strained.
Nielsen West Africa MD Lampe Omoyele pointed out that Nigerian consumers would have to start maintaining their positive outlook while adapting to market conditions that would impact on their disposable income and ability to spend, leading to the need to reprioritise spending and consumption.
The fourth-quarter outlook for jobs remained high in Nigeria, as nearly three-quarters of respondents believed prospects would be good or excellent in the next year.
Sentiment about personal finances and immediate spending intentions was also positive and, in fact, highest in Nigeria.
Half of Nigeria’s respondents said now is a good time to spend, followed by Ghana at 40%.
Meanwhile, most consumers in Ghana and Nigeria said they did not have spare cash. However, most of those who did claim to have discretionary funds, indicated that saving continued to be a priority.
When it came to South Africans’ perceptions about local job prospects in the next 12 months, 74% of respondents indicated that their prospects were not so good or bad, while 17% indicated that their prospects were good and 4% said they were excellent.
South Africans’ perceptions of personal finances remained relatively stable compared with the previous quarter, albeit with a mixed bag of sentiment.
A majority of 57% viewed their personal finances as excellent or good, while 34% said they were not so good, while 6% said they were bad.
Considering the cost of living and their own personal finances, 72% of respondents said this would not be a good time to spend money, while 27% said it would.
In terms of how South Africans used their spare cash after covering essential living experiences, 41% spent it on paying off debts, credit cards and loans, 38% put it into savings and 21% spent it on entertainment – a drop from 24% in the previous two quarters.
The economy proved to be the biggest worry for South Africans over the next six months, with 34% citing it as their biggest or second-biggest concern. This was followed by job security, which was a concern for 25% of respondents; debt, which was a concern for 22% of respondents; crime, a concern for 20% of respondents; and increasing food prices, a concern for 19% of respondents.
Globally, consumer confidence ended 2015 on a subdued note as the index declined two points from the third quarter to 97 – the same score as the start of the year.
Compared with the first quarter of 2015, confidence in the fourth quarter remained flat in Asia-Pacific at 107, while Europe edged up four points to 81.
All other regions ended the year less confident than they started, with the North America and Middle East and Africa regions declining six points each to 100 and 90, respectively, and Latin America declining three points to 83.
Europe was the only region to show consistent confidence improvements throughout 2015 across three index indicators – jobs, finances and spending.