The Consumer Confidence Index reached its highest rate this millennium in December. The index last month climbed to a figure last seen in August 2000 as the Portuguese continue to look at the future with increased and almost unprecedented optimism.
The confidence enjoyed by consumers had been climbing steadily since the summer, but a considerable jump in December saw it reach a 16-year high.
According to Statistics Portugal (INE) the marked recovery in the sentiment among consumers was mostly due to “the positive contribution from the positive outlook towards employment and the general expectations that surround the economic future of the country.”
To a lesser degree, Portuguese were also more relaxed about the current financial status as a household along with a renewed and increased ability to save.
The survey, which measures consumer attitudes, especially in the short-term, further found that with regards to views on the national economy, opinions were last this favourable back in August 1998.
Consumers also indicated that they had, or were in the process of making important purchases, with this particular indicator the highest it has been since February 2004.
These positive figures follow the surprise news that Portugal’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had risen by 1.6 percent during the third quarter of 2016.
At the time, Finance Minister Mário Centeno argued that the dramatic year-on-year increase was in large part due to the “increase in confidence and improvements that were increasingly evident in the labour market.”
Despite these figures, there have been some dissenting voices.
Leading economist João Cerejeira told Renascença after these figures were released that these figures mirror “an expectation and a global vision rather than illustrate the concrete situation of each and everyone.”
He also argued that the positive messages from the popular President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and to a lesser degree that of Prime Minister António Costa have further helped the Portuguese to believe that the economy is and will continue to improve even though that is not necessarily reflected in their daily lives.