Consumer climate in Europe improves

As the German press agency dpa reports, the consumer climate in Europe has improved significantly in the first quarter 2015, reaching its highest level for seven years.

Consumers now increasingly expect it will be possible to overcome the financial crisis now. The market research company GfK sees a significant recovery in consumer confidence above all in the western and southern European countries, naming as reasons for its positive assessment the improving economy, a fall in unemployment, albeit slow, and the low price of oil. 

In the euro-zone countries there is also the fact that due to the current weakness of the euro the competitiveness of local industry is increasing, which benefits exports.

Below the line the consumer climate index for the 28 EU states during the course of the first quarter rose by 4.3 points to 9.8. For a few Eastern European countries, however, there is a different picture, despite predominantly good economic figures. Here the influence of the war in Ukraine and the effects of the economic sanctions against Russia.

Countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Rumania and Bulgaria are increasingly coming to feel the impact of the sanctions due to their closer trade links.

In the Baltic states with their Russian minorities there is added to this the fear of a military conflict with Russia.