strsubcodechain Consumer opinion surveys - Data and Methods
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Subjects > Consumer opinion surveys

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Subject: Consumer opinion surveys

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Contact person/organisation
OECD statistics contact: stat.contact@oecd.org

Direct source
Consumer opinion survey data published in the OECD's monthly Main Economic Indicators (MEI) are compiled initially by national statistical institutes, other government agencies, private research institutes, banks, and other research institutes attached to universities or other academic institutions. The OECD obtains consumer opinion survey data for 21 countries from the European Commission in lieu of their direct collection from national agencies. The countries involved are Members of both the European Union and the OECD, and comprise: Austria; Belgium; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Ireland; Italy; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Poland; Portugal; Slovak Republic; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; United Kingdom.

Variables collected

National consumer confidence indicators
Confidence indicators compiled according to national definitions are available for all OECD countries apart from Chile, Iceland, and Norway and for all the non-member economies except India. For information on variables included and calculations of national confidence indicators please refer to country information in the metadata.


EU harmonised consumer confidence indicators
The EU harmonised consumer confidence indicator is based on answers to the following four questions with five answer alternatives to each question (a lot better, a little better, the same, a little worse, a lot worse).

(1) Expected change in financial situation of household over the next 12 months;
(2) Expected change in general economic situation over next 12 months;
(3) Expected change in unemployment over the next 12 months;
(4) Expected change in savings of household over next 12 months.

The confidence indicator is expressed as the balance of positive over negative results. The confidence indicator published by the EC is constructed with double weights on the extremes. Responses “a lot better” and “a lot worse” get the weight 1 and “ a little better” and “ a little worse” get the weight 1/2, and “the same” has zero weight.

Consumer prices: future tendency
The question asked for this indicator is "By comparison with the past 12 months, how do you expect that consumer prices will develop in the next 12 months? They will (++) increase more rapidly (+) increase at the same rate (=) increase at a slower rate (-) stay about the same (--) fall (N) don't know.

This question refers to expected inflation rate in the United States and South Africa.

Economic situation: future tendency
The question asked for the compilation of this indicator is "How do you expect the general economic situation in this country to develop over the next 12 months? It will (++) get a lot better (+) get a little better (=) stay the same (-) get a little worse (--) get a lot worse (N) don't know.



Key statistical concept
Consumer opinion surveys are carried out to obtain qualitative information for use in monitoring the current economic situation. The information collected in consumer opinion surveys is described as qualitative because respondents are asked to assign qualities (opinions), rather than quantities, to the variables of interest.

Typically, consumer opinion surveys are based on a sample of households and respondents are asked about their intentions regarding major purchases, their economic situation now compared with the recent past and their expectations for the immediate future.

The Main Economic Indicators includes only three of the harmonised European indicators, namely the:

1. confidence indicator;
2. consumer prices: future tendency; and
3. general economic situation: future tendency.


Aggregation and consolidation
The EU harmonised consumer confidence indicator is based on answers to the following four questions with five answer alternatives to each question (a lot better, a little better, the same, a little worse, a lot worse). (1) Expected change in financial situation of household over the next 12 months; (2) Expected change in general economic situation over next 12 months; (3) Expected change in unemployment over the next 12 months; and (4) Expected change in savings of household over next 12 months. The confidence indicator is expressed as the balance of positive over negative results. The confidence indicator published by the EC is constructed with double weights on the extremes. Responses “a lot better” and “a lot worse” get the weight 1 and “ a little better” and “ a little worse” get the weight 1/2, and “the same” has zero weight.

Seasonal adjustment
The harmonised European series are seasonally adjusted using DAINTIES software. The direct method is used (i.e. national unadjusted series are aggregated prior to seasonal adjustment).


Recommended uses and limitations
Consumer opinion surveys provide information on consumer sentiment based on both the general economic situation and the financial situation of the individual or family. Data obtained from these surveys are useful in their own right but are also used in the compilation of consumer confidence indicators and in the compilation of other composite and composite leading indicators where they may be combined with data derived from business tendency surveys and / or statistics from conventional quantitative surveys.

The results of consumer opinion surveys are still subject to sampling and non-sampling errors, and users are advised to refer to methodological information (metadata) to ascertain the relevance of the statistics to their need(s). Particular attention should be given to the wording of questionnaires used to collect information from respondents, the sample frame used for the selection of respondent households, the size of the sample and the survey response rate.




Subject: OECD Indicator


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Geographic coverage
CCIs are calculated using the national consumer confidence indicator covering all OECD member countries except for Norway and four of the Big 6 OECD Non-member Economies (Brazil, China, Indonesia and South Africa).

Key statistical concept
  Starting from June 2010, smoothing, normalisation and zone aggregation methods have changed as follow:

1. The series are now smoothed using the Hodrick-Prescott (HP) filter, where cycles shorter than 6 months are removed (l=1).

2. The series are normalised by subtracting their mean and then dividing the difference by their standard deviation. After normalisation, they are amplitude-adjusted to the de-trended indices of GDP, used as proxy measures of the business cycle, and finally centred around 100.

3. The CCI zones are calculated as annually chain-linked Laspeyres indices using as weights annual GDP at current prices adjusted for PPPs. More information on this calculation can be found in the OECD Composite Leading Indicator zone aggregation documentation; for weights, please click here. CCI zones are calculated with a 60% threshold of weight availability.