CANADIANS SOURING ON THE ECONOMY: SURVEY

TORONTO, Dec. 20 /CNW/ - After months of ambivalence on the economy, Canadians' sentiment turned more negative in December - especially when it comes to perceptions of the current economy. These findings are consistent with our earlier results that indicated this will be the lowest-spending holiday season since 2005. Overall, TNS Canada's final Consumer Confidence Index of 2010 was down 1.5 points, more than erasing its small November gain. It ended the year at 96.1.

"Gloomy - that's how we can describe Canadians year-end sentiments on the economy," said Dr. Michael Antecol, vice-president of TNS Canada and director of the marketing research firm's monthly tracking study. "The year clearly isn't ending well for consumer confidence - indifference has given way to heightened negativity around both current and future economic prospects. It really isn't too surprising that so many Canadians are planning to sit on their wallets this holiday season."

The Present Situation Index, which captures evaluations of the overall state of the current economic and employment situations, took a decided drop in December. After a one-month positive blip of 2.1 points in November, the index returned to the negative results of September and October, falling 4.5 points to end the year at 89.0 - a score not seen since March of this year.

The results of the two future-oriented confidence indices were again mixed. The Expectations Index, which measures consumers' estimation of the economy, household income and employment in the next six months, returned to negative territory after two months of modest gains. In December the index fell 1.1 points to end 2010 at 104.6.

In contrast, the Buy Index, which gauges the degree to which people think the current period is a good time to make major purchases, continued its third quarter momentum. The index ended the year at 97.0, up 1.9 points in December and complementing the 4.3-point increases seen in the first two months of the third quarter.

"The results of the Buy Index provide some hope for the future. No doubt it is a good time to make some of those major buys - retailers are very busy lowering prices. The key will be whether this momentum can be sustained into 2011. But a word of caution - Canadians now have a higher debt to income ratio than our American neighbours. So, while these purchases may seem encouraging at first blush, they don't necessarily improve the underlying economic fundamentals. They are often purchased through increased debt - especially credit card debt - and when interest rates inevitable rise, we'll still be sitting on a house of cards."

Consumer Confidence Index tracks Canadians' attitudes about the economy each month and is part of a global study conducted by TNS in 18 countries. Three indices are produced each month to show how confidence in the economy is changing: Present Situation Index; an Expectations Index; and a Buy Index. The Canadian fieldwork is conducted using the firm's national bi-weekly telephone omnibus service, TNS Express Telephone. A total of 1,015 nationally representative Canadian adults were interviewed between December 6 and 12, 2010. For a survey sample of this size, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

TNS Canada (www.tns-cf.com) is one of Canada's most prestigious full-service marketing, opinion and social research organizations.

About TNS

TNS, who recently merged with Research International, is the world's largest custom research agency delivering actionable insights and research-based business advice to its clients so they can make more effective business decisions.  TNS offers comprehensive industry knowledge within the Consumer, Technology, Finance, Automotive and Political & Social sectors, supported by a unique product offering that stretches across the entire range of marketing and business issues, specializing in product development & innovation, brand & communication, stakeholder management, retail & shopper, and qualitative research.  Delivering best-in-class service across more than 70 countries, TNS is part of the Kantar Group. Please visit www.tnsglobal.com for more information.

About Kantar

Kantar is one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 26,500 employees work across 95 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group's services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies.

SOURCE TNS

For further information: For further information:

Media Contacts:

Dr. Michael Antecol
Vice President
Tel: (604) 668-3306
e-mail: michael.antecol@tnsglobal.com

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