Cautious consumer sentiment
Bern, 07.08.2013 - Consumer sentiment in Switzerland remained relatively stable in July 2013. With a value of -9 points the consumer sentiment index was down slightly on the result from the last survey in April (-5 points). A value of -9 corresponds to the historical average of the index. Over the last quarters, the consumer confidence index has shown a rather prudent attitude of the private households in Switzerland, neither particularly optimistic nor pessimistic. During the last survey in July, expectations regarding the general economic situation in the next twelve months were revised downwards and inflation expectations (for price development in the coming twelve months) upwards*.
Of the four sub-indices which are included in the calculation of the consumer confidence index**, two show a noticeable deterioration: In July the level of expectations amongst house-holds for the future economic development fell to -6 points (+3 in April); this sub-index is now close to its historical average of -10 points. Expectations regarding future unemployment deteriorated in July – following a marked improvement in the April survey – (+54 points in July, +47 points in April).
By contrast, there was very little change in the assessment of households about the future development of their financial situation (-1 points in July, +2 points in April). Compared with the last survey, there was also virtually no change in the assessment of the savings possibilities over the next few months (+26 points in July, +23 points in April).
The remaining sub-indices in the survey relating to the past or current situation and which are not included in the calculation of the overall index, paint a stable picture between April and July. The assessment of the general economic development over the last twelve months was virtually the same as in April (-9 points in July, -7 points in April). Households’ assessment of the development of their financial situation over the last twelve months also remained almost the same (-8 points in July, -10 points in April). There was virtually no change in the assessment of the savings possibilities in today’s economic environment (+45 points in July, +41 points in April), nor in the attitude towards the timing of larger purchases (+0 points in July, +5 points in April). The assessment of job security was only minimally lower in July (-69 points, compared to -65 in April); the level of this sub-index remains so far significantly below the historical average of -55.
The last survey in July revealed however significant changes in the appreciation of price developments. The interviewees’ assessment of inflation over the last 12 months was much higher than in the previous survey (+44 points in July, +32 points in April). There was an even more significant increase in the expectations of inflation over the next twelve months (+53 in July, +34 in April). However, the values registered in July for both indices linked to the appreciation of price developments in Switzerland remain well below the long-term average.
* In the months of January, April, July and October approx. 1,200 randomly selected individuals are surveyed on behalf of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) regarding their subjective assessment of the economic situation, their personal financial situation, inflation, job security etc. The surveys are conducted by the market research institute DemoScope.
**Since the publication of the survey results from October 2009 two additional questions have been included. One is a question regarding the expectations for the development of unemployment and the other is about the probability of households being able to save in the future. The new questions help in the calculation of a new, official, more EU-compatible consumer confidence index. The three new quarterly series begin from April 2007. With the publication dated 7.5.2013 the SECO will be switching the publication of the survey results over completely to the new EU-compatible index of consumer confidence (see technical memorandum “Simplified method of communicating the Consumer Confidence Index” dated 7.05.2013 under: http://www.seco.admin.ch/themen/00374/00453/index.html?lang=de).
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