* Survey shows western European retailers among most
* U.S. retailers less downbeat
* Asian, south American retailers still optimistic
(Recasts lead, adds quotes, background)
By Mark Potter and Victoria Bryan
BERLIN, Sept 26 The euro zone debt crisis is
sapping consumer confidence and if policymakers do not take
effective action soon the consequences will be felt the world
over, retail executives warned on Monday.
A survey of 100 retailers with annual turnover of more than
$1 billion, published on the first day of the World Retail
Congress in Berlin, showed western European store groups more
pessimistic about domestic consumer confidence than those in any
other part of the world, except Australia.
"People are afraid of losing their money. People are not
spending as they could," Lovro Mandac, chairman of German
department store chain Kaufhof and vice president of
the German retail federation told an audience of around 900
"The savings rate is going up tremendously in Germany this
year, and this will not help."
Ira Kalish, director of global research at business
consultants Deloitte, said euro zone countries needed to align
their fiscal policies, debt-laden states like Greece needed to
reform their labour markets and wealthier countries like Germany
and France needed to do more to subsidise poorer ones.
But there were few signs of that happening, he added.
"We see band aids, periodic bailouts, but not yet
fundamental reforms necessary to make this thing (the euro)
work," Kalish said, forecasting the euro zone was heading for a
recession and that if policymakers did not take decisive action
soon there would be a deep recession that would jeopardise
economic recovery in the United States and elsewhere.
The pessimistic tone of the conference came after euro zone
leaders faced stinging criticism from counterparts in the United
States, China and other countries at the weekend for failing to
act more decisively.
Ernst Burgbacher, member of parliament at the German economy
ministry, told delegates he was confident policymakers would get
the crisis under control, but also signalled Germany would not
write a blank cheque for its struggling partners.
"Everybody has to be responsible for putting their own
houses in order," he said.
ASIA STILL GOING STRONG
The survey of top retailers from across the world measured
their perception of domestic consumer confidence on a scale from
-5 for deep pessimism to +5 for high levels of optimism.
The reading from western Europe was -1.2 percent, just ahead
of Australia on -1.3, but below north America on -0.3.
Retailers elsewhere were more positive, producing scores of
+2.5 in South America and +2.8 in Asia.
Rick Darling, U.S. president of supply chain management
company Li & Fung, said he was seeing that diversity in his
"We're in a very slow to no growth market (in the United
States and Europe) ... In Asia, we're still seeing tremendous
growth," he said.
John McCarvel, chief executive of U.S. shoe company Crocs
, told Reuters strong demand in Asia, together with new
products and low selling prices, was helping the firm to offset
"patchy" trading in Europe and the United States.
He warned against excessive pessimism -- a point echoed by
Javier Perez, president of MasterCard Europe, who said declining
consumer confidence had so far not resulted in a slowdown in
growth of payments using MasterCard.
(Editing by Mike Nesbit and David Cowell)