Consumer confidence remains stable after dropping only one index point in 2013Q1 to 94 points versus the previous quarter and the same quarter a year ago, the latest consumer confidence index from Nielsen shows.

Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism. In the latest round of the survey, conducted between February 17 and March 8, 2013, Asia Pacific was the only region globally to sit above the 100 point benchmark and Australia was one point above the global average of 93 points.

Nielsen’s latest Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions found that 42 per cent of Australian online consumers believe the next 12 months will be a good time to buy things they want or need, up one point versus the same quarter a year ago and five points higher than the global average.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of Australians say they have changed their spending to save on household expenses compared to this time last year and saving money and paying off debt continued to be of highest priority for Australian consumers in Q1 2013 with 42 per cent indicating they save spare cash once essential living expenses have been covered and 32 per cent pay off debts/credit cards/loans. 

“Consumer confidence in Australia has remained relatively stable for the past six months,” said Chris Percy, managing director of Nielsen Pacific. “We are however seeing green shoots in discretionary retail spend, indicating a rise in cautious optimism.”

The Nielsen study also revealed that regional Consumer confidence in the economy increased in nine of 14 Asia-Pacific markets measured in Q1 compared to Q4 2012, and delivered eight of the 10 highest index scores of 58 countries. Indonesia rose five index points to 122, jumping ahead of India’s index of 120, which declined one point to be the most confident nation globally.