|Unit||Balance of opinion; SA|
|Source||French National Institute of Statistics and Economic studies (insee)|
Monthly consumer confidence survey
INSEE has conducted a monthly consumer confidence survey since January 1987. The monthly survey
now replaces the four-month survey carried out by the Institute until October 1994. In the overlap period,
statisticians were able to verify the consistency in the movements of the two series of indicators. The
monthly survey offers the added advantage of tracking changes in consumer opinion more closely through
a more precise identification of the turning-points.
The monthly survey gives a picture of households' opinions on their economic environment and on some
aspects of their personal economic circumstances. It provides information on consumer behavior and
expectations in regard to spending and saving. The survey monitors short-term phenomena—such as
prices, unemployment, and saving—as they are perceived by households, independently of
macroeconomic indicators. These perceptions are a useful input for short-term economic analysis.
About 2,000 households are interviewed by telephone. The data have been captured directly since
January 1991. The interviews take place in the first three weeks of every month except August. The
August values in the charts are obtained by a linear interpolation of data from the July and September
The responses are tabulated in balance-of-opinion form and seasonally adjusted. Seasonal coefficients
are recalculated at the end of every quarter, occasionally entailing some minor revisions in the series.
Harmonized European surveys
Identical monthly surveys are conducted in European Union countries. Results are published by the
Commission in the journal European Economy (Supplement B) and reprinted in the "International Affairs"
section of INSEE's Informations Rapides.
The Commission also calculates a summary indicator of household opinion that it calls the "consumer
confidence indicator." The latter and the indicator published here may sometimes differ both in their levels
and their rates of change, since the balances of opinion are calculated with different weights for each
response modality. The seasonal adjustment method is also different.
Each indicator is calculated by subtracting the percentage of negative responses from the percentage of
positive responses. "Don't know" responses are ignored.
Arithmetic mean of following five indicators:
- Personal financial position - past change
- Personal financial position - outlook
- Likelihood of major purchases
- Living standards in France - past change
- Living standards in France - outlook
Note: The seasonally adjusted series of the summary indicator is obtained by a seasonal adjustment of
the raw series, not by averaging the five seasonally-adjusted basic series.
The European harmonization of the monthly consumer confidence survey as from
In order to allow a perfect harmonization of European economic surveys, the monthly consumer
confidence survey undergoes several changes starting from January 2004 for some questions:
- A rewording and in particular a modification of the temporary reference: now systematically the past or
next twelve months (see annexe).
- A different choice in the answers (see annexe) and in particular the deletion of screening: for instance,
the four terms YES, CERTAINLY / YES, MAYBE / NO, PROBABLY NOT / NO, CERTAINLY NOT are now proposed
simultaneously to the respondents, whereas before the situation was the following: first the answers YES
/ NO were proposed, and then CERTAINLY / MAYBE or PROBABLY NOT / CERTAINLY NOT; this modification
generally moves upwards the levels of the balances of opinion.
- A new ordering of the questions in the questionnaire.
- A modification of the sampling method: the number of interviewees remains the same (about 2000 per
month), but the drawing of the sample is modified, in order to take better into account the penetration
rate of people who have an unlisted telephone number.
Thanks to this reform of the survey, the European questionnaires will now be harmonized and therefore
more easily comparable. However, because of the differences with the former survey, one will have to be
very cautious in the interpretation of the results during the first months of 2004. Since the seasonality of
the new series is not known yet, we will suppose for a start that there is no difference between the
seasonalities of the new series and the ones of the old series.
ANNEXE: the questionnaires of the monthly consumer survey
New questionnaire Former questionnaire
Question 1: How do you think the general economic
situation in your country has changed over the past
12 months ? It has … got a lot better (+) / got a little
better (+) / stayed the same / got a little worse (-) / got
a lot worse (-) / don’t know
Question 1.0: In your opinion, overall living
standards in France have… improved (+) / remained
stable / worsened (-)
(Question 1.1. if improved or worsened: significantly / slightly)
Question 2: 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 (-) / don’t know
Question 2.0: In your opinion, overall living
standards in France in the next year will… improve
(+) / remain stable / worsen (-)
(Question 2.1. if improved or worsened: significantly / slightly)
Question 3: How do you expect the number of
people unemployed (unemployment) in this country
to change over the next 12 months ? The number
will… increase sharply (+) / increase slightly (+) /
remain the same / fall slightly (-) / fall sharply (-) /
Question 3.0: In your opinion, the number of
unemployed in the coming months will… rise (+) /
remain stable / fall (-)
(Question 3.1. if improved or worsened: significantly / slightly)
Question 4: How do you think that consumer prices
have developed over the last 12 months ? They
have … risen a lot (+) / risen moderately / risen
slightly (-) / stayed about the same (-) / fallen (-) / don’t
Question 4.1: By how many per cent do you think that
consumer prices have gone up / down over the past 12
N.B. The answer to question 4.1 is not published.
Question 4.0: In your opinion, prices in the past six
months have… risen / remained stable (-) / fallen
(Question 4.1: if risen: sharply (+) / moderately / slightly (-))
Question 5: 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 (-) / don’t know
Question 5.1: By how many percent do you expect consumer
prices to go up / down in the next 12 months ?
N.B. The answer to question 5.1 is not published.
Question 5.0: By comparison with today, how do
you expect prices to move in the coming months ?
They will rise more quickly (+) / They will rise just as
quickly / They will rise less quickly (-) / They will
remain stable (-) / They will fall slightly (-)
Question 6: In view of the general economic
situation, do you think now it is the right moment for
people to make major purchases such as furniture,
electrical / electronic devices, etc. ? Yes, it is the
right moment now (+) / It is neither the right moment
nor the wrong moment / no, it is not the right
moment now (-) / don’t know.
Question 6.0: Do you think it is the right time for
major purchases (furniture, washing machines,
TVs…) ? Yes, it’s a fairly good time (+) / It’s neither a
good time nor a bad time / No, it’s not a very good
Question 7: In view of the general economic
situation, do you think that now is … ? A very good
moment to save (+) / a fairly good moment to save (+)
/ not a good moment to save (-) / a very bad moment
to save (-) / don’t know.
Question 7.1: In your opinion, over the last twelve months,
overall living standards in France have… significantly
improved (+) / slightly improved (+) / remained stable / slightly
worsened (-) / significantly worsened (-)
Question 7.2: In your opinion, overall living standards in
France in the next twelve months will… significantly improve
(+) / slightly improve (+) / remain stable / slightly worsen (-) /
significantly worsen (-)
N.B. Questions 7.1 et 7.2, which were asked in the former
questionnaire, will be maintained for one year, and then will be
taken away. As a matter of fact, they will be replaced by
questions 1 and 2 concerning the general economic situation.
Question 7.0: In the present economic situation, do
you think it’s reasonable to put money into
savings ? Yes (+) / No (-)
(Question 7.1 if yes: certainly / maybe;
Question 7.2 if no: probably not / certainly not)
Question 8: Which of these statements best
describes the current financial situation of your
household ? We are saving a lot (+) / we are saving
a little (+) / we are just managing to make ends meet
on our income / we are having to draw on our
savings (-) / we are running into debt (-) / don’t know
Question 8.0: What is your present financial
position ? You have a lot of money left to save (+) /
You have some money left to save (+) / You just
about make ends meet / You’re dipping into your
savings (-) / You’re getting into debt (-)
Question 9: How has the financial situation of your
household changed over the last 12 months ? It
has… got a lot better (+) / got a little better (+) /
stayed the same / got a little worse (-) / got a lot
worse (-) / don’t know
Question 9.0: In the past six months, your financial
position … has improved (+) / has remained stable /
has worsened (-)
(Question 9.1: significantly / slightly)
Question 10: How do you expect the financial
position of your household to change 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 (-) / don’t know
Question 10.0: In the coming months, do you
expect your financial position to… improve (+)
/remain stable / worsen (-)
(Question 10.1: significantly / slightly)
INSEE presents data for this release with fewer decimal places for some series in its press release tables and their BDM macroeconomic database than it does in an excel file released as an attachment to the press release. We have elected to report data at a precision level consistent with the BDM and press release tables.