Amid softened restrictions consumer confidence is increasing. The Index is up by 2.8 index points and the pattern is similar for both sub-indices: the Present Situation Index went up by 3.9 (from -43.1 to -39.2) and the Expectations Index is up by 1.7 (from -33.4 to -31.7) as can be seen on Chart 1.
What happened? In February, the Government of Georgia lifted restrictions on trading activities and public transport. Schools and kindergartens were reopened. Georgia also eased entry restrictions for Armenian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Kazakh, Russian, and Ukrainian travelers, triggering positive expectations about a possible revival of the tourism industry in the near future.
Another piece of good news that might have boosted consumer confidence is the opportunity for legal employment in Germany’s agricultural sector. This was announced by the German Ambassador to Georgia on February 11th. By the end of February, more than 80,000 Georgian citizens had registered for this seasonal employment program. This could also explain why the increase in confidence was slightly higher for those living in rural areas (see Chart 2).
Females’ confidence grew more than males’. With the closure of offices and educational institutions and the simultaneously-emerging norm of working from home and online education, the pressure on women to perform unpaid chores like cooking, cleaning, washing, and childcare increased. Reopening schools and kindergartens should accordingly have increased their confidence (see Chart 3).
Too early to rejoice. Even with two months of gradual increases (January and February), the CCI has not recovered enough to return to the average observed this summer. It is getting close, though. Let’s see where March takes us.
BAR CHARTS: CONSUMER RESPONSES BY QUESTIONS