Pessimism broke through in March among Finnish consumers regarding the future of the country's economy, while the government chaired by the social democrat Sanna Marin approved business closure measures and proposed restrictions on freedom of movement, in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The consumer confidence indicator (CCI) stood at -3.0 in March, having been -0.8 in February and -0.9 in January. In last year's March, the CCI stood at -7.1 and the long-term average is -1.8.
Source: Statistics Finland.
To understand the mental state of Finnish consumers, it is necessary to explain that the CCI value and each of its four components are calculated by the official statistical agency in a range that goes from -100 to +100. Therefore, any negative value indicates pessimism. The higher the balance figure, the brighter the view of the economy, and the lower, the bleaker.
However, the perception Finns have of the country's economy is one thing and their own economy is quite another.
Compared to February, consumers' "expectations concerning Finland's economy weakened clearly" while those concerning their own economy in 12 months remained unchanged. Still, Consumer's intentions to spend money on durable goods within one year - one of the best thermometers to measure the state of mind of the population - decreased also in March.
Compared with last year's March, the assessment of one's own economy at present was worse this time. The other three components of the CCI improved clearly in a year.
Fear of unemployment
Consumers' expectations concerning the development of the general unemployment situation in Finland also became gloomier again in March.
Consumers estimated in March that their own financial situation was the best ever in the measuring history since 1995. The time was regarded good for saving, but poor for taking out a loan and buying durable goods. Nevertheless, many still intended to raise a loan within one year.
In March, consumer confidence in the economy was strongest in Greater Helsinki (+1.2) and weakest in Northern Finland (-8.3). Of population groups, students were most optimistic (7.4).
Unemployed people had the most pessimistic views concerning economic development (-12.9). The confidence indicator received the value -5.2 among self-employed people.