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UBS consumption indicator: weak start to the year in private consumption
In January, the UBS consumption indicator lost much of the ground it gained at the end of last year.
Zurich/Basel, 26 February 2014 – The UBS consumption indicator fell from 1.80 to 1.44 index points in January. The majority of the sub-indicators show a weaker picture for private consumption at the start of the year. However, if you ask consumers directly, their mood seems to be quite good.
Consumer sentiment, which is surveyed by SECO and is included as one of five sub-indicators in the UBS consumption indicator, improved slightly in January. The index rose from -5 to 2 index points, significantly above the long-term average of -9. Many consumers judge their financial situation positively and are considering major purchases. However, at the start of the year, car dealers felt little of this. In January, registrations of new cars fell by almost 7% compared with the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis. With around 20,000 new cars registered last month, this represents the lowest figure since August 2010.
After good Christmas sales, the mood among retailers has cooled slightly. In January, the index of the business situation in the retail sector, which is surveyed by the KOF Swiss Economic Institute, fell from 12 to 7 index points. Despite this decrease, the mood in the retail sector remains distinctly positive and – apart from the previous month – is at its highest level since May 2011.
How the UBS Consumption Indicator is calculated
The UBS Consumption Indicator signals private consumption trends in Switzerland with a lead time of about three months on the official figures. At roughly 60%, private consumption is by far the most important component of Swiss GDP. UBS calculates this leading indicator from five consumer-related parameters: new car registrations, business activity in the retail sector, the number of domestic overnight hotel stays by Swiss residents, the consumer sentiment index, and credit card transactions made via UBS at points of sale in Switzerland. With the exception of the consumer sentiment index, all of this data is available monthly.