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EU consumer spending subdued in Q1 2012 following two quarters without growth

30 mai 2012

May 30, 2012 – Consumer spending in the European Union was subdued in the first quarter (Q1) of 2012, registering a decline of 0.2% across the combined 27 member states compared against the same period in 2011. While the overall picture for the EU was subdued, growth was recorded in fifteen EU member states,according to the Visa Europe EU Consumer Spending Barometer.

The slight fall in spending in Q1 2012 maintained the generally downward trend seen since the middle of 2011. The first quarter decline represents a second consecutive quarter of stagnant growth and the weakest performance since the region emerged from recession in late 2009.

A mixed spending picture was provided by data for the biggest EU economies. France recorded modest year on year growth of 2.0%, but this was offset by declines in Germany (-1.0%), Italy (-1.2%) and a fractional fall in the UK (-0.1%).

In line with recent trends, countries most affected by sovereign debt crises remained amongst the weakest performing. Crisis-hit Greece registered the sharpest year-on-year fall in spending of all 27 EU countries (-12.7%), while there were continued declines seen in Ireland (-5.1%) and Portugal (-4.1%).

Consumer behavior in Eastern Europe conveyed more optimism as growth rates were in double digit territory for Lithuania and Slovenia, while Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Slovakia all recorded robust increases in household spending. Moreover in Q1 2012, with the exception of Latvia, all of these registered stronger growth rates than those seen in the previous quarter.

Visa Europe’s EU Consumer Spending Barometer is based on actual spend rather than sentiment or opinion, and this data is then adjusted to allow for Visa card issuance, consumer payment preferences and inflation. Unlike other indices or surveys that are based on sentiment or opinion in particular sectors, this Barometer provides an accurate reflection of real consumer spending across the EU based on consumer’s increasing preference for electronic payments, with €1 in every €7 spent in Europe being on a Visa product

Philip Symes, Chief Financial Officer at Visa Europe said: „Whilst the majority of the EU’s 27 member states recorded growth in the first quarter of 2012, the overriding trend was one of subdued consumer spending. A second quarter without growth highlights the pressures consumers are currently under, but this picture masks significant divergences in the economic outlook of individual EU countries.”

About the Visa Europe’s EU Consumer Spending Barometer

Over one in every seven euros spent in the EU is on a Visa card, with nearly 80% of that spending on debit cards. This means the Barometer provides a uniquely comprehensive and timely insight into the health of consumer spending in the European Union.

Visa Europe’s EU Consumer Spending Barometer is based on spending on all cards issued by Visa – debit, credit and prepaid. Markit has developed the Barometer by creating a model which adjusts the raw Visa transaction data for a number of factors.

First, the data are deflated by changes in the number of Visa cards issued to account for the expansion of Visa’s business. Secondly, an adjustment is made to offset changing consumer preference for card usage. This is based on an assessment of the trends in cash withdrawals and point-of-sale (POS) transactions on Visa cards. Finally, to account for inflation, the data are deflated by changes in the consumer price index to provide an indicator of real changes in household expenditure.

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