Consumer sentiment: no further improvement for the time being
Bern, 07.08.2014 - Consumer sentiment has been better than its long-term average for several quarters, but further improvement is proving elusive. With a value of -1 point reached in July 2014*, the general index has remained at much the same level since the beginning of the year. Nor have any major changes in the various factors which shape consumer confidence been revealed by the July survey as compared to last April’s results. The last major trend change in consumer sentiment in Switzerland was identified in October 2011/January 2012 (new upturn).
The values reached in July by the four sub-indices which are included in the calculation of the overall consumer sentiment index do not differ significantly from those recorded last April. The assessment of the future economic situation was in July, with +5 points, practically un-changed from last April’s (+8 points). In January 2014, this index reached a figure of +18 points. The outlook for the development of unemployment (+33 points in July) has remained practically unchanged too (from the +30 points reported last April). Expectations regarding the level of unemployment have been falling regularly since October 2011 (when the index had reached a figure of +73 points). The assessment of the savings possibilities in the coming months has remained relatively stable since January 2012 (+28 points in July, compared with +25 points in April 2014; the index already stood at +22 points in January 2012). The assessments of the future trend in household budgets remained also unchanged (-2 points in July, +1 point in April).
Since January 2012, the assessment of the economic situation in recent months and the assessment on job security have improved slowly but steadily. However, no further improvement has been observed in the most recent quarters (i.e. since the beginning of 2014). The corresponding sub-index (economic situation in the recent past) reached a value of +7 points in July (compared with +5 points last April). In January 2012 the same sub-index stood at -47 points. The assessment of job security remained also practically unchanged between April (-47 points) and July (-49 points). It is important to point out that this sub-index has exceeded its long-term average of -55 points since last April.
Two questions for which the July survey revealed assessments which differed significantly from last April’s results are as follows: a) last July, the current period was felt to be rather more favourable for major purchases (this particular sub-index has risen from +1 point in April to +8 points in July); b) inflation expectations have been reviewed slightly upwards (the sub-index has moved from +49 points in April to +55 points in July). However, this latter sub-index is still well below its long-term average of +70 points.
The other sub-indexes, in particular the assessment of the past trend in prices and the assessments of the past trend in household budgets, have not varied greatly between April and July. It can be seen that assessments of the trend in household budgets (past and future) have not changed much since October 2011/January 2012.
*In the months of January, April, July and October some 1,200 randomly selected households are surveyed on behalf of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to determine their subjective assessment of the economic situation, their personal financial situation, inflation, job security etc. The surveys are conducted by the DemoScope market research institute.
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