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Survey: Global consumers increasingly anxious about the future


Boston -- A survey released Tuesday by the Boston Consulting Group found that a growing number of consumers around the world are growing more anxious about the future, and are planning to reduce or maintain -- but not increase -- their spending.

According to BCG's 2011 global report on consumer sentiment, “Navigating the New Consumer Realities,” which polled more than 24,000 people around the world, U.S. consumers were slightly less apprehensive than last year -- but only by 2%. U.K. consumers were 3% more apprehensive in 2011 than in 2010, and in Italy, apprehension skyrocketed by 26%. Even in China and India, apprehension was on the rise.

In the United States, 57% of respondents said they have been personally affected by the downturn -- up 8 percentage points from last year. Europe saw a six percentage point increase.

In the United Kingdom, 53% of respondents believe the economy will worsen next year, which is making them reluctant to increase their spending.

Other findings included: Thirty-six percent of Chinese consumers and 19% of Indian consumers say they will increase their spending next year. And consumer optimism is higher in China and India than in the United States and Europe. But in spite of this, consumer sentiment in China and India is less optimistic than in the past. Thirty percent of Chinese consumers said they were anxious about the future, compared to 26% last year. Sixty-two percent of Indian consumers expressed anxiety about the future, up from 58% in 2010.

Older consumers are more confident (in the U.S., in spite of worries over retirement savings, only 38% over the age of 55 said they were anxious about the future, as opposed to 52% of all respondents). And contrary to marketing clichés, they are more open to technological innovation. Eighty percent of U.S. consumers over age 50 say they use the Internet.

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