Turkish consumer confidence rises in March

Turkey’s consumer confidence climbed in March even as fears intensified over the spread of the coronavirus.

The benchmark index of confidence increased to 58.2 this month from 57.3 in February, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) said on its website on Monday. TÜİK gauges consumer sentiment by surveying almost 5,000 people across the country in the first two weeks of each month.

Turkey closed the border with Iran and barred flights from China, Italy, South Korea and Iraq in February as it braced for a possible outbreak. It reported its first case of the coronavirus on March 11 and the first death on March 17. Confirmed infections now stand at 1,236 and fatalities total 30.

Expectations regarding the economic situation in the country fell to 75.6 points from 75.9, TÜİK said. The outlook for employment improved to 57.6 points from 53.8. Any reading below 100 points in the survey’s results reflects pessimism.

Turkish consumer confidence has remained depressed since a currency crisis struck the economy in the summer of 2018, leading to widespread bankruptcies and a surge in unemployment. After six months of economic recession, government stimulus measures and interest rate cuts helped economic growth to accelerate to an annual 6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, exceeding economists’ expectations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged citizens to stay indoors last week and the government has closed schools and barred flights from most countries. Some shops and many businesses remain open.

Turkey consumer confidence
Source: Turkish Statistical Institute