Uncertain times in March
Even though March 2018 is an exceptional month in many different ways, several factors might have had special impact on consumer sentiment concerning the current and future state of their personal finance, as well as the current and future situation in the country. The last few weeks saw an ignoble record being set in the number of actual and suspected cases of the Flu, while Stefan Horngacher and his team of ski jumpers celebrated their subsequent successes, and Poles had also twice clashed with the new reality of the Sunday trading ban.
March is also the second month in the row with the primary indicator of the TNS Consumer Index falling (currently at 4.7 points). Although this is barely 0.9 points fewer than last month, and 1.7 fewer than two months before, it is still advisable to be wary of even such minute differences, as the first positive reading for over a decade was noted barely 11 months ago. The biggest drops in the Index can be seen among consumers aged up to 40 – i.e. the group that used to shop on Sundays the most commonly. Apart from citizens of the several major cities and Poles living in rural areas, this decline affected also those living in cities with a population below 200 000 - the readings are actually in the negative range for this consumer group.
Even though the thrill of the ski jump tournament will fade next month, and we might even become accustomed to stores being closed on Sundays, it is still difficult to predict which way the Index is going to sway, as the prospect of negative media coverage concerning the current situation of the economy still looms ahead. March is also a special case due to the one-off drop in Economic sentiment (-13 points), and it has to be emphasised that this is the first such case in over two years (the last one coinciding with the launch of the 500+ programme). However, the current media sentiment is exactly the opposite, with the indicator that reflects economic down/upturn having raised slightly for the first time in six months.
Looking at the current situation (which is actually rather difficult to define) it seems reasonable to assume that the April reading is going to be affected primarily by seasonal factors, such as the first days of spring and the weather that comes with it, as well as what our moods are going to be like at the turn of the month, right after the Easter holiday.
Strategic Account Manager