Consumer Sentiment Improves
Bern, 07.02.2013 - The consumer confidence survey conducted by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs shows that consumer sentiment improved noticeably in January 2013 for the first time in three quarters. The consumer confidence index* had remained slightly below its historic average in the two previous surveys (July and October 2012) but rose in January 2013 to -6 points (slightly higher than the historic average). Improved expectations of future economic trends and savings opportunities were major contributory factors to this higher confidence. Only expectations of the labour market development remain relatively subdued.
Three of the four sub-indexes which are included in the calculation of the consumer confidence index** improved markedly between October 2012 and January 2013. Household expectations were noticeably more optimistic in respect of future economic developments (this indicator reached a value of zero in January 2013 after -23 points in October 2012). Households also judged the possibility of saving money in coming months (up from +25 to +34 points) and their own future financial situation (up from -2 to +4 points) more favourably than in October 2012. The future trend of unemployment figures is the only point on which confidence has not yet made noticeable gains (+62 points in January, after +67 points in October).
Of the other sub-indexes which are not included in the calculation of the consumer confidence index, none deteriorated between October and January. Households judged general economic developments in the past twelve months to be significantly more favourable in January than was the case just three months ago (this indicator reached a value of -10 points, after -22 points in October 2012). The timing of major acquisitions (cars, household appliances, furniture) and the development of the personal financial situation in the past twelve months were felt to be more favourable than had been the case in October. Only job security was still regarded as rather unsatisfactory; the relevant sub-index has fallen slightly below its historic average since autumn 2011 and remained practically unchanged between October and January.
The households which were surveyed still see no signs of rising inflation. In January, they judged the price trend for the past twelve months and their price expectations for coming months as modest (these values remain thus clearly under their historical average) and were even slightly lower than in October.
The «old» consumer confidence index as it was calculated before October 2009 also showed a distinct improvement between October 2012 and January 2013 (from -11 points to -2 points).
* In the months of January, April, July and October, some 1,200 households are surveyed on behalf of SECO to determine their subjective assessment of the economic situation, their personal financial situation, inflation, job security etc.
** Since the publication of the survey results for October 2009, two additional questions have been included. One is a question regarding unemployment expectations and the other is a question about the probability of households being able to save in the future. The new questions help in calculating a new, official, EU-compatible consumer confidence index for Switzerland. The three new quarterly series begin in April 2007 (see technical notes “Extension of survey" dated 4 November 2009 at: http://www.seco.admin.ch/themen/00374/00453/index.html?lang=de).
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