Consumer confidence: documentation of statistics
Basic data of the statistics
The statistics on Consumer Confidence describe the economic sentiments, i.e. consumers' estimates and expectations concerning the development of their own and Finland's general economy. The statistics also include information on consumers' intentions of making expensive purchases, saving and raising loans. The data collection of the statistics is based on individual sampling, and it is made by means of a self-filled web questionnaire and telephone interviews (mixed-mode data collection).
The statistics on Consumer Confidence were previously known as the Consumer Barometer (Survey). The first Consumer Barometer was conducted in November 1987. At first, the survey was made twice a year (May and November), and in 1992, the survey times were raised to four (February, May, August and November). Starting from October 1995, data on Consumer Confidence have been collected every month as assigned, harmonised and partly financed by the European Commission (Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs DG ECFIN).
The questions asked in the Consumer Confidence Survey (CCS) are mainly divided into opinion questions but also into factual questions. The questions are answered by means of ready-made response alternatives (a qualitative survey; exceptions are questions about percentage estimates concerning inflation).
The wordings and response alternatives of the questions on the web form of the statistics:
1. What is your main activity at the moment?
Employee in full-time work
Employee in part-time work
Farmer (also unpaid)
Entrepreneur (also unpaid) or own-account worker
Unemployed or laid off
On family leave
Conscript or in non-military service
Student or pupil
Pensioner or chronically ill
I do something else
The following questions concern your opinions about the economy.
2. How do you find your economic situation now, compared with the situation 12 months ago? (B1)
3. And what do you expect your economic situation to be like in 12 months' time, compared with the present situation? (B2)
4. Is it easy or difficult for you at the moment to predict your future economic situation?
5. How likely is it that you will save money in the next 12 months? (D2)
6. Which of the following alternatives best describes your finacial situation at the moment? (D1)
A lot of money is saved
A little money is saved
I can barely make ends meet
I have to use savings
I am getting into debt at the moment
7. How do you find Finland’s economic situation now compared with the situation 12 months ago? (B3)
8. And what do you expect Finland’s economic situation to be like in 12 months' time compared with the present situation? (B4)
9. How do you estimate the number of unemployed will change in Finland? (B7)
Do you think that the number of unemployed in 12 months' time will be:
10. Do you think that your personal threat of unemployment or lay-off in the past 12 months has: (B8)
Increased a lot
Decreased a lot
There has never been and there is no threat
11. How do you think consumer prices have changed in the past 12 months?
Risen a lot
Risen quite a lot
Risen a little
Remained the same
12. How much do you estimate prices have risen/fallen in percentages in the past 12 months? (B5)
13. Compared with the past 12 months, how do you estimate consumer prices will change in Finland in the next 12 months? Will they:
Rise more quickly
Rise at the same rate
Rise more slowly
Not rise or fall
14. How much do you estimate prices will rise/fall in percentages in the next 12 months? (B6)
The next questions concern saving and taking out a loan.
15. If you think about the general economic situation in Finland, what is the time like now for saving? (C2)
16. If you again think about the general economic situation, what is the time like now for taking out a loan? (C3)
17. Are you planning to take out a loan in the next 12 months? (D5)
Next questions are about purchases and consumption.
18. If you think about the general economic situation in Finland, what is the time like now for buying durable goods like furniture, home technology or a car? (C1)
Neither good nor bad
19. Compared with the past 12 months, how are you planning to spend money on buying durable goods in the next 12 months? (E1)
Not more or less
20. How likely is it that you will spend money on buying a passenger car in the next 12 months? (E2)
21. Are you going to buy a new or used car? (E3)
Both new and used
22. Are you going to spend money on buying an apartment or building a house in the next 12 months? (E4)
23. How likely is that you will spend a lot of money on home renovations or improvements in the next 12 months? (E5)
Are you planning to spend money on the following purchases in the next 6 months?
24. Household appliances (fridge, microwave oven, washing machine, etc.) (E65)
25. Entertainment electronics (television, computer, phone, etc.) (E64)
26. Home decoration (furniture, carpets, paintings, etc.) (E62)
27. Other vehicle (bicycle, boat, motorbike etc.) - not a car (E67)
28. Expensive hobby or sports equipment (E66)
29. Free-time residence or cottage (E63)
30. Leisure trips abroad (E69)
31. Leisure trips in Finland lasting at least four days (E68)
And finally, a few background questions.
32. How do you live? Do you live in…?
Right of occupancy or part-ownership dwelling
Some other form of tenure
33. According to the register of occupations, your occupation belongs to the group [...]. Is this still the right group?
34. What is your precise occupational title /
You previously answered that you are an agricultural entrepreneur. What is your more precise occupational title /
You previously answered that you are an entrepreneur. What is your more precise occupational title?
35. Into which of the following income groups do your monthly gross income and benefits belong?
Under EUR 1,500 per month
EUR 1,500 to 2,499 per month
EUR 2,500 to 3,599 per month
EUR 3,600 per month or more
Unwilling to answer
36. How many persons, including yourself, belong to your household?
37. How many of them are adults, that is, aged at least 18?
The percentage distribution of responses to opinion questions is used to derive a balance figure corresponding to the EU’s balance figure indicator. The balance figure characterises the average opinion of respondents in a certain period. Examining balance figures as a time series reveals changes in sentiments from one period to another.
The balance figure is derived as a difference between the positive and negative response rates by weighting extreme answers by figure 1 and more moderate answers by figure 0.5. The balance figure does not include the middlemost or neutral opinions and ‘don’t know’ answers. The balance figure can range between -100 and +100. The higher value for the balance figure, the brighter the consumers’ view on the economy.
Calculation of the balance figure from response rates by question:
B1, B2, B3, B4:
(1 x much better + 0.5 x slightly better) - (1 x much worse + 0.5 x slightly worse)
(1 x much lower + 0.5 x slightly lower) - (1 x much higher + 0.5 x slightly higher)
(1 x decreased a lot + 0.5 x decreased slightly) - (1 x increased a lot + 0.5 x increased slightly)
(1 x good) - (1 x bad)
(1 x very good + 0.5 x quite good - 1 x very bad + 0.5 x quite bad)
(1 x a lot of money is saved + 0.5 x a little money is saved) - (1 x I am getting into debt at the moment + 0.5 x I have to use savings)
(1 x very likely + 0.5 x quite likely) - (1 x very unlikely + 0.5 x quite unlikely)
(1 x much more + 0.5 x slightly more) - (1 x much less + 0.5 x slightly less)
For inflation questions (B5, B6), the average of consumers’ estimates is calculated from the percentage responses (only estimates with an absolute value of under 15 per cent included). For intentions of purchasing and taking out a loan (D5, E2, E4, E5, E62 to E69), the response rates for definite and possible intentions are summed up.
The Consumer Confidence Indicator (CCI, A1) summarises consumers’ views on the economy. The CCI is the average of the balance figure of the four components:
- consumer's own economy now (B1)
- consumer's own economy in 12 months (B2)
- Finland's economy in 12 months (B4)
- consumer's spending money on durable goods in the next 12 months compared to the past 12 months (E1).
This new CCI introduced in 2019 is used and recommended by the European Commission's Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN). The components of the former long used CCI were (all concerning the next 12 months): own economy (B2), Finland's economy (B4), general unemployment (B7) and household’s saving possibilities (D2).
By means of the CCI and expectations related to the economy, it is possible to anticipate economic development on the micro and macro level. According to the analysis made by DG ECFIN, the new CCI should describe particularly the development of private consumption better than the previous indicator.
The classification data used in the statistics on Consumer Confidence are the respondent’s gender, age group, level of education, socio-economic group, gross income, area of residence, mode of living and household size.
Unit of measure
Frequency of dissemination
-Buying a new or used passenger car within 12 months
-Buying a dwelling or building a house within 12 months
-Home renovations in the next 12 months
-Acquisitions in the next 6 months: free-time residence, home decoration, household appliances, entertainment electronics, hobby and sports equipment, other vehicle than car, leisure trip in Finland, leisure trip abroad.
-Consumer’s own economy now and in 12 months’ time
-Finland's economy now and in 12 months’ time
-General unemployment in 12 months’ time
-Personal threat of unemployment now
-Change in consumer prices now and in 12 months’ time
-Favourable time for saving, taking out a loan and making major purchases at present
-Consumer’s financial situation now
-Consumer’s saving possibilities within 12 months
-Consumer’s spending money on major purchases within 12 months
Persons that live at a different address most of the time but use their income together with members of a household can also be considered to belong to the same household. Such persons include, for example:
-Persons living in another municipality e.g. due to work if they participate in acquiring income for the household;
-Performers of military service/non-military service;
-Persons in temporary hospital care;
-For example, students living in a different municipality if they use their income together with the household.
However, there may be persons living in the same apartment that do not belong to the same household. They use their own income and thus form their own household. Such persons include, for example:
-Subtenants, domestic workers and boarders;
-Foster children when the foster home activities are professional and the foster home arrangement is not intended to be permanent;
-For example, students living in shared dwellings unless they are married or cohabiting.
Accuracy, reliability and timeliness
The CCI has been widely used in Finland in anticipating the activity of consumers. It has strongly correlated with changes in gross domestic product (GDP) and private consumption. The direct questions on plans of making purchases, saving or raising a loan have also been a good indication of how consumers' decisions are carried through. Consumers’ expectations concerning unemployment and inflation have also been quite accurate.
A few reliability surveys have been made on the CCS in Finland. At the beginning of the survey (1989 and 1990), Kari Djerf analysed the functioning and accuracy of certain data on intentions of purchase with macroeconomic indicators. A comprehensive reliability study was produced in 1997 on a tenyear study for the CIRET Conference in Helsinki (Djerf & Takala).
A paper on the CCS and the accuracy of its indicators was again prepared for the CIRET Conference in autumn 2010 (Kangasniemi, Kangassalo & Takala). After that, Tara Junes (2014) has made comparisons between consumer confidence and private consumption series in Finland and some other EU countries. Quite recently, the predictive power of the CCS data was substantiated by economists of the Bank of Finland (Lindblad & Silvo 2020). Furthermore, the Bank of Finland has studied the functioning of inflation expectations many times (Kuismanen & Spolander 1995, Pursiainen 1999, Kangassalo & Takala 2005, Paloviita et al. 2019 and 2021).
For the methodological aspects, Pertti Kangassalo and Veijo Notkola analysed the change in the structure of non-response when the data collection method changed in 1999 to 2000 (CIRET 2000). Later, the effects of the methodological change on the survey results were examined more extensively (Kangassalo & Heiskanen 2001).
In 2013, the response rates of all EU Member States' consumer surveys and the factors influencing them were examined on assignment of the European Commission (Task force on quality of BCS data; Junes & Kangassalo).
In spring 2019, the data collection method of the CCS changed from only telephone interviews into a so-called mixed-mode data collection, i.e. a self-filled web questionnaire and telephone interviews. This had different kinds of effects by question on the survey results. Tara Junes and Tuomas Parikka wrote a description of the effects of the change and the level revision of the time series in the publication of the CCS in January 2020.
Data collected with a sample survey always contain statistical inaccuracy, which is, however, reduced by weighting. The small size of the monthly response data of the statistics as well as non-response and its skewing cause inaccuracies to the results. In terms of the Consumer Confidence Indicator, this means an estimated margin of error of at least 1.7 unit in both directions:
Standard error for the CCI: 0.90 units (September 2020, n=1,112).
Confidence interval (95%) for the CCI: ± 1.96 x standard error = ± 1.76.
Comparability - geographical
The questions of the statistics have always been for the most part comparable with corresponding international surveys. In October 1995, the opinion questions of the survey were made compliant with the 15 questions of the EU countries’ harmonised Consumer Survey (currently 18 EU questions). Some of Finland's own questions have been included in the same form since the beginning of the survey, since November 1987.
In terms of the key questions, the survey is identical in all present and future EU countries.
Comparability - over time
The comparable time series of the statistics cover all months starting from October 1995. The figures of the time series before May 2019 have been reweighted and level revised to correspond to the survey results produced with the new data collection method (mixed-mode data collection) started in May 2019.
Coherence - cross domain
On the other hand, the purpose of the statistics is to offer a tool for anticipating economic development, so the results and time series are always compared to the statistics describing the development of the national economy (e.g. National Accounts, Trend Indicator of Output, Labour Force Survey, Consumer Price Index, Bank Statistics).
The data of the statistics can be utilised in predicting the development of national accounts time series: GDP and private consumption by quarter, monthly Indicator of Total Output.
Coherence - internal
The statistics are the only monthly survey in Finland that examines the economic sentiments and intentions of consumers.
Because the main purpose of the indicators of the statistics is to anticipate trends in the national economy and private consumption, the survey is conducted as unchanged in time as possible in terms of its methods and questions. Apart from a few exceptional phases, unbroken monthly time series have been secured in Finland starting from 1995.
Changes in data collection methods always have at least some effect on the response distributions of the statistics. As a result of the methodological change in 2000, the results concerning consumers' estimates of their household's financial situation and of the time being favourable for buying durable goods and saving became slightly more positive. Later on, the extension of the population to persons aged 75 to 84 is estimated to have weakened slightly the value of the Consumer Confidence Indicator starting from January 2012.
The most significant change in the statistical methodology took place in May 2019. At that time, the so-called mixed-mode data collection (self-filled web questionnaire and telephone interviews) and a rotating panel design were taken into use. In addition, the population was cut down to those aged 18 to 74, the weighting was renewed, the data content was considerably lightened and all questions were made personal, that is, only concerning the respondent (previously many questions were directed at the whole household). As expected, these changes had varying combined effects on the survey results depending on the question. However, based on the parallel collection and careful analysis of the effects made in February to April 2019, the time series of the statistics could be level revised retrospectively, to the start of the monthly data collection, that is, until 1995. Thus, the comparability of the data of the statistics remained relatively reliable over time. A description of the effects of the data collection change and the level revision of the time series can be found in the release of the statistics in January 2020.
Source data and data collections
Data acquisition takes place in with the so-called mixed-mode data collection method, that is, by a self-filled web questionnaire or as a telephone interview. The register of employment statistics provides ready-made data on occupational groups for each respondent. After the current good 50 per cent non-response rate, the average size of the monthly response data is around 1,100 persons. The non-response rate includes those who refused from the survey or were otherwise prevented from participating, as well as those who could not be contacted. Possible over-coverage (deaths, moves abroad and permanently in institutional care) is also included here in non-response.
After the current good 50 per cent non-response rate, the average size of the monthly response data is around 1,100 persons.
The non-response rate includes those who refused from the survey or were otherwise prevented from participating, as well as those who could not be contacted. Possible over-coverage (deaths, moves abroad and permanently in institutional care) is also included here in non-response.
Statistics Finland's interviewers are trained at the start of their employment relationship as regards both the interview technique and the information content of the statistics. The interviewers are assisted in their work by the guidelines of the data collection and the possibility to receive additional instructions from work supervisors and superiors, as well as from the researchers of the statistics. By means of the feedback from interviewers, the questionnaires can be updated and honed even better.
Each month, just before the beginning of the data collection, Statistics Finland sends to each sample person an accompanying letter for the data collection, which gives a brief description of the contents and purpose of the data collection. Email is also used for contacting and providing information. The search for telephone numbers mainly takes place through the purchased search service, but the interviewers supplement it with additional searches. The respondents can contact Statistics Finland themselves by telephone or email to find a suitable time for the interview.
The data collection starts on the first working day of the month and takes good two weeks. First starts web responding and telephone interviews after a few days. The web form is open throughout the collection period. The vast majority, over 70 per cent, of the responses come from the web questionnaire each month. The questionnaire is very short and fluent and can be filled in with any device such as PC, tablet or mobile phone. The data collection forms (web form and interview form) were designed and tested carefully at the start of the mixed-mode data collection. Swedish and English versions are also used for both forms.
Frequency of data collection
Cost and burden
The costs of the collection of data under the EU agreement for the European Commission total approximately EUR 400,000 per year (the Commission reimburses 35% of this).
In the last stage, weighting coefficients are obtained with the calibration method (Calmar) so that the estimated marginal distributions of the selected background variables, the person's gender, age group, level of education and area of residence correspond to the marginal distributions obtained from the entire population, i.e. population structure. The weights are formed as a ratio between the cell frequencies of the population and the sample frequencies. It is not necessary to care about small cell frequencies or cell frequencies that remain zero. The method can also be called “incomplete post-stratification”. The calibration of weights is “automatically” made as part of the results processing programs (SAS).
The effect of weighting on sentiment indicator values is usually insignificant for three reasons. Firstly, the sampling design of the survey (SYS) produces a self-weighting sample. Secondly, non-response has remained fairly even in different population groups, so it has not much skewed the data. And thirdly, the correlation of questions concerning opinions and indictors calculated from them is weak with the variables used in weighting. It can be said that opinions are divided relatively much in different population groups.
Statistics Finland does not adjust seasonally the CCS time series published, but the European Commission does it later in its own release (on the level of each country and the whole EU).
Actual imputation is not used in the statistics. Only around 50 cases of missing occupational codes are covered for monthly.
Principles and outlines
Contact organisation unit
Legal acts and other agreements
Further information: Statistical legislation
Confidentiality - policy
Further information: Data protection | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
Confidentiality - data treatment
Further information: Publication principles for statistics at Statistics Finland
All research results are made public monthly on Statistics Finland's website on the pre-notified release date and time given in the release calendar (27th day of the month at 8 am; if it is a weekend or a public holiday, then on the first weekday after it). For some (charged) customers the results are sent by email at the time of release.
The release schedule of the statistics is prepared in cooperation with the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, which is responsible for other inquiries on business trends in Finland. The releases are made monthly on the same day and time as the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK. At the same time, it is ensured that the release in Finland takes place before the release made by the European Commission.
Accessibility and clarity
In addition to statistical data published in the StatFin database, a release on the key data is usually published in the web service. If the release contains data concerning several reference periods (e.g. monthly and annual data), a review bringing together these data is published in the web service. Database tables updated at the time of publication are listed both in the release and in the review. In some cases, statistical data can also be published as mere database releases in the StatFin database. No release or review is published in connection with these database releases.
Releases and database tables are published in three languages, in Finnish, Swedish and English. The language versions of releases may have more limited content than in Finnish.
Information about changes in the publication schedules of releases and database tables and about corrections are given as change releases in the web service.
The dissemination methods of the data of these statistics are Statistics Finland's web pages, direct email messages to certain customers, Findicator, Tieto&trendit publication and also social media, e.g. Twitter. The European Commission publishes the data seasonally adjusted monthly.
The monthly release of the statistics always contains the release text and the figures.
For some (charged) customers the survey results are sent by email at the time of release.
The micro data of the statistics are available (for research use) mainly as standard format data files delivered to the European Commission, whose content is described and from which no individual respondent can be identified. Those ordering the data must file an application for licence to use statistical data to Statistics Finland's research services, and only after the application has been approved, the data can be released for their use.
The data of these statistics are also published as articles and blogs (Tieto&trendit) and on social media, e.g. Twitter.
Data revision - policy
The reason why data in statistical releases become revised is often caused by the data becoming supplemented. Then the new, revised statistical figure is based on a wider information basis and describes the phenomenon more accurately than before.
Revisions of statistical data may also be caused by the calculation method used, such as annual benchmarking or updating of weight structures. Changes of base years and used classifications may also cause revisions to data.
There is no revision in the statistics.
The statistics are in regular contact monthly with data users. Based on the feedback received, the data mostly correspond to users’ data needs.
Quality management requires comprehensive guidance of activities. The quality management framework of the field of statistics is the European Statistics Code of Practice (CoP). The frameworks complement each other. The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are also compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice.
Further information: Quality management | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
Further information: Publication principles for statistics
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