Press release 28.2.2005

Consumers' confidence in their own economy at record high

Consumers' confidence in the economy strengthened distinctly in February. The consumer confidence indicator stood at 16.8, having been 12.3 in January and 11.1 twelve months earlier. All four components of the confidence indicator improved in February form the month before, although views concerning Finland's economy by only slightly. In February, consumers' views concerning the economy were the brightest since January 2001. Consumers' confidence in their own economy has never been as strong a this. The data are based on Statistics Finland's Consumer Survey for which 1,546 persons resident in Finland were interviewed between 1 and 15 February.

Consumer views on the economic and financial conditions in Finland in February 2005

February 2005 balance figure January 2005 balance figure February 2004 balance figure Average 10/95-2/05
Consumer confidence indicator 16.8 12.3 11.1 13.5
Own economic situation in 12 months' time 13.9 10.9 11.1 9.0
Household's saving possibilities in the next 12 months 47.3 40.2 43.4 30.9
General economic situation in Finland in 12 months' time 6.3 5.1 6.7 7.4
Unemployment in 12 months' time -0.3 -6.9 -16.7 6.7
Inflation in 12 months' time, % 1.9 1.9 1.8 1.9
Personal threat of unemployment at present 4.2 4.8 .. ..
Financial situation of household at present 31.8 28.6 29.9 24.2
Favourable time to make major purchases at present 30.1 34.5 33.8 20.4
Favourable time to save at present 14.7 15.2 10.2 4.9
Favourable time to raise a loan at present 34.1 30.2 29.4 22.2
The balance figures are obtained by deducting the weighted proportion of negative answers from that of positive answers. The consumer confidence indicator is the average of the balance figures for four questions concerning the next 12 months: own and Finland's economy, unemployment and household's saving possibilities. The balance figures and the confidence indicator can range between -100 and 100. A positive balance figure denotes an optimistic and a negative balance figure a pessimistic view on the economy.

In February, 30 per cent of consumers believed that Finland's economic situation would improve this year, while 17 per cent of them thought the country's economy would deteriorate. In all, 32 per cent of consumers believed in February that their own economy would improve and only 9 per cent of them feared it would worsen over the year. In January, the respective proportions were 31 and 12 per cent and one year ago 29 and 9 per cent.

Altogether 31 per cent of consumers thought in February that unemployment would increase over the next twelve months and about as many, or 32 per cent, believed it would decrease. In January, the respective proportions were 36 and 24 per cent and one year ago 48 and 19 per cent. Twelve per cent of employed persons reckoned that their personal threat of unemployment had grown over the past few months but more, or 15 per cent, of them thought it had lessened. Consumers predicted that consumer prices would go up by 1.9 per cent in the next 12 months.

In February, 76 per cent of consumers thought the time was favourable for raising a loan, and 14 per cent of households were planning to do so within the next 12 months. Saving was considered worthwhile by 62 per cent of consumers in February. Sixty-six per cent of households had been able to lay aside some money and as many as 79 per cent of them believed they would be able to do so during this year.

In February, 51 per cent of consumers thought the time was favourable for buying durable goods. Households had abundant intentions to repair and furnish their homes, and travel. Nineteen per cent of households were either fairly or very certain to buy a car and seven per cent a dwelling within the next 12 months.

Consumer confidence indicator 10/1995-2/2005

Consumers' expectations concerning their own and Finland's economy in 12 months' time 10/1995-2/2005

Latest comparative data on consumer confidence in different EU countries is available today
from 12 noon onwards at:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/indicators/businessandconsumersurveys_en.htm

Detailed data about the frequency of home appliances in households are also available from
Statistics Finland. The most recent data were collected in connection with the February interviews
for the Consumer Survey.

Source: Consumer Survey 2005, February. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Mr Pertti Kangassalo +358 9 1734 3598, kuluttaja.barometri@stat.fi