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The BPCE - Viavoice barometer survey of projects planned by the French - August 2012

Purchasing power: consumer fear strikes again

Concerns over purchasing power

More than one hundred days after the change in power and are the French more confident about their purchasing power? This latest Viavoice BPCE barometer survey of projects planned by the French for the Les Echos financial daily newspaper and radio news channel France Info shows that consumer worries are far from over and in fact on the up: today, close to one in two French citizens (46%) believe that their purchasing power is “set to drop” over the “next three months”, which is a 10 point increase on pre-summer figures at the end of May. There are three factors which explain this new surge in consumer fear:

  • Seasonal trends: the weeks before the “back-to-school” period have always been a time of worry when it comes to purchasing power: spending linked to the new school year, payment of the third installment on income tax;
  • The macro-economic climate: new lay-offs and redundancy plans and prospect of an unemployment rate of over 10% in France that chip away at the economic confidence amongst some households;
  • Current affairs: the debate over fuel prices is not likely to ease concerns, with the possible drop of "two or three centimes" in the average price per liter falling very short of expectations.

September 2012: a very sensitive period

Against this backdrop, the weeks ahead look like being a bumpy ride, as much in economic as in political terms:

  • Fuel prices are likely to cement discontent: close to two-thirds of the French population (65%) feel that "fuel prices" are now "unacceptable", whilst 30% feel that they are “high but tolerable”;
  • The proportion of French people that plan to “put less money aside” is increasing: 29% compared with 21% in May;
  • The proportion of the French that plan to reduce spending on food or clothing is rising: 34% compared with 30% in May and 26% in March.