Consumer spending broadly flat across the EU in Q4 2012

Offering insight into consumer spending

Consumer spending contracted by -0.1% across the EU in Q4 (October to December) 2012 compared to Q4 2011. While spending was marginally lower than a year ago, this represents a marked improvement on Q3 2012 when spending was -1.7% lower than the same period in 2011.

The Visa Europe: EU Consumer Spending Barometer uses adjusted Visa Europe card transaction data to provide a robust indicator of total consumer expenditure across all payment methods. With EUR1 in every EUR6.75 in Europe spent on a Visa card, the Barometer gives a uniquely comprehensive insight into the health of consumer spending.

While overall spending continued to contract across the EU as a whole, the rate of decline eased as a result, in part, to spending growth in three of the five largest economies. Following contractions in Q3 2012, spending in Q4 in France increased 1.3% year-on-year while in the UK annual growth of 2.1% was recorded. Germany continued to build on the spending growth recorded in Q3 with an increase of 2.6% in the final quarter of 2012.

In contrast, Italy and Spain, the fourth and fifth largest EU economies, saw further accelerated rates of declines in household consumption during Q4 (-7.6% and -6.5%, respectively). Elsewhere, Portugal and Greece (-7.4% and -2.0% respectively) continued to record further declines in spending, albeit at slower rates than in Q3 2012.

Philip Symes, Chief Financial Officer at Visa Europe said: “2012 proved to be a subdued year for household spending across the EU with year-on-year contractions recorded in three of the four quarters. However, the year ended with spending heading in a positive direction and almost on a par with spending levels from 2011. A return to consumer spending growth for many of the largest economies in the EU is a welcome sign and as drivers of growth, it is a trend we hope to see continuing into 2013.”

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