Italian consumers are feeling less confident about the economy, and it’s being reflected in a reduced appetite for fashion.

The Nielsen Co.’s Global Online Consumer Confidence Survey for the third quarter saw Italy falling to 52, from 55 in the second quarter. The global average for the period ended in September was 88, down from 89 in the second quarter. A reading of below 100 indicates a pessimistic assessment.

The bleak outlook has affected spending habits and intentions as well. Sixty-two percent of Italians said they spent less money on clothing in 2011 than in 2010, and 23 percent said that tendency would likely continue in 2012. In this year’s first quarter, 35 percent of Italians polled said they would spend discretionary income on clothing, but by the third quarter, the figure had slipped to 28 percent.

Italians are going out to eat less frequently, spending less on entertainment, driving their cars less and putting off major home furnishing projects or repairs, the Nielsen study found.

Forty percent of Italians described the present time as a “negative” moment to buy things they either wanted or needed, and 45 percent called it “mediocre.” The number of Italian families unable to save money was stable at around 20 percent.

More than half — 53 percent — of those who believe there is a recession think it will continue into 2012.

 

Only 5 percent of Italians ranked political stability as a major concern, but 11 percent were worried about their ability to pay off personal debts, up from 9 percent a year ago.

This was the seventh consecutive quarter in which global confidence declined, with levels dropping in 31 of the 56 markets measured. More than 31,000 Internet users were surveyed.

As Italian stocks have plummeted, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has seemed unable to reassure either fellow EU leaders or Italian citizens that Italy can lift itself out of its difficult economic straits.

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