04_18 Optimistic April! TNS Consumer Index

We have a record! The TNS Consumer Index, our consumer mood metric, grew to 9.8 points this April - this is the highest result since April 2008. Precisely 10 years ago the value settled at a record-breaking 13.7 points. (it had never been higher since 1994, when the measurements commenced), and then it proceeded to decline gradually, until it moved into the negative range in November, and stayed there for another 8 years. This was closely connected with the global economic crisis, spectacular bankruptcies of numerous financial institutions (with Lehman Brothers leading the way), and the deteriorating situation in Poland (in February, the unemployment rate was at 10 points). The fact that we were a "green island” then, Poland’s EU presidency, and Donald Tusk’s heading the European Commission did not help the status quo. Even though Robert Lewandowski was scoring goals for the Polish national team, and Kamil Stoch showed a solid performance as well, the ratios were still in the red.

Initial symptoms of a significant improvement in consumer moods came after the new prime minister, Beata Szydło, took office, and when the 500+ family aid programme was launched. The situation stabilised in the second year of the project’s run.

Since April 2017, the Consumer Index has not dropped into the negative value range again, and has been on a steady growth trend since then. Is the value going to exceed the 10 points mark next month? I think it is highly likely. However, even if it doesn’t actually happen next month, it is still possible this year. Particularly if we consider the upcoming local-government elections, and the numerous, specific promises of financial support for various social groups that officials have been making recently (including lower CIT and social security rates, county road funding, PLN 300 financial aid for school starter packs, and higher pensions).

Traditionally, the most optimistic group are consumers who benefit from the 500+ programme (people with 2 or more children), as well as consumers aged 25 to 39, and those living in smaller towns and villages. However, the current growth of the Consumer Index this April has also manifested itself in the younger consumer group, among Poles aged 18-24. The optimistic attitudes in this group might be coming from the record-setting low unemployment rates that still continue to decrease, rather than from the promised PLN 500 sports and culture vouchers – because the latter was announced only several days ago. Time will tell if this is just an effect of the waking Spring, or a long-term shift in this group’s attitudes. If the latter proves to be the case, then we might see another record-breaking value soon, namely the highest level that the index has seen at any time. We are currently only 3.7 points short of reaching this mark. Make sure to read our monthly TNS Consumer index reports to come.

Adam Szymczak, Client Service Director