Consumer confidence slips amid signs of ‘turbulent’ summer for retailers

Consumer confidence slipped in June as concerns about personal finances and caution around big ticket spending point to a “turbulent” summer for retailers, a survey suggests.

The long-running GfK consumer confidence index fell three points to minus 13, a score seen five times already this year.

All five measures of confidence used to set the overall score decreased, with changes to personal finances over the last 12 months resulting in a four-point drop to minus one – one point lower than the same time last year.

Confidence in personal finances over the coming year also fell, by three points to positive two, four points lower than a year ago.

Meanwhile, the major purchase index, a measure of confidence in spending on big ticket items, fell three points to minus two, two points lower than in June 2018.

Confidence in the general economy over the last year fell to minus 32, four points lower than last year, while expectations for the next 12 months dropped to minus 33, eight points down on June 2018.

The savings index, not included in the overall score, is up for the third month in a row at positive 19, as more consumers agree that “now is a good time to save”.

However, GfK noted the percentage of disposable income being saved was at near historic lows as households either dip into their savings or go into debt to fund the cost of day-to-day living, adding that “without the security of a savings buffer, consumers may well be unable to absorb the impact of any downturn a no-deal Brexit might deliver”.

Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: “With all measures falling across the board this month, we revert to the overall index score of -13 that we saw four times already this year. Perhaps scores clustered around -13 are to be the new normal for consumer confidence?

“While UK consumers continue to remain concerned about the wider economy, over which the woman or man in the street has no control, of greater worry are the falls in the measures for personal finance.

“These better reflect our hopes and fears for our everyday financial futures and this, coupled with a decline in the major purchase index, could point to a turbulent time for the economy over the summer months.”