CONSUMERS DIG IN FOR A LENGTHY DOWNTURN
By Jenny Wiggins in London 2008-10-30
作者：英国《金融时报》珍妮•威金斯(Jenny Wiggins)伦敦报道 2008-10-30
Plunging household incomes are causing dramatic changes in the way people around the world buy household goods and amuse themselves, with shifts towards cheaper items and in-home entertainment expected to last for years as consumers prepare for a long global recession.
More than half the 26,000 people surveyed in 52 countries between late September and early October by research group Nielsen believe their countries will be in recession in 12 months' time.
The most pessimistic countries were Japan, Germany, Portugal and France.
Nearly half of people surveyed said they were trying to save money by cutting back on “out of home” entertainment, such as going out to restaurants, and spending less money on new clothing, while more than one third were switching to cheaper grocery brands.
The changes are hurting sales of “non-essential” products such as mobile phones, laptop computers and clothing.
James Russo, vice-president of marketing at Nielsen, said these patterns of behaviour were likely to intensify as consumer confidence declined.
“We're seeing a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour,” Mr Russo said.
In previous recessions, such as those that occurred in the US and Europe in the early years of the decade, consumers did not significantly change the way they bought goods and services.
But with consumer confidence falling in 43 of the countries surveyed by Nielsen compared with last year (the Philippines, Brazil and Thailand are among the few countries where confidence has risen), people are changing the way they live their lives.
Big shifts are starting to occur in Greece and Italy, where eating out has long been part of the culture: nearly three-quarters of Greeks say they are staying home more, and more than half of Italians are doing the same.
More than half of the Japanese people surveyed, whose small flats make it difficult to cook, are buying fewer take-away meals.
The people who are most optimistic about being out of recession within 12 months are the Indians, the Vietnamese, the Chinese and the Russians.
Chris Morley, managing director of Nielsen China, said that while the country's previously vibrant clothing industry was slowing down, sales of packaged food and household goods were rising, particularly in regional cities such as Chengdu and Chongqing.
But in the UK, which is teetering on the edge of recession, there is one leading indicator that times are tough.
Kimberly-Clark, the US owner of the Andrex toilet paper brand, said last week that sales of toilet paper are falling in Britain. “[That] is kind of unheard of,” the company said.