Consumer confidence has plunged at fastest rate in over 40 years, says index

Consumer confidence fell of a cliff in the last two weeks of March, tumbling at the fastest rate since records started more than 40 years ago, according to an index.

People were asked about changes to their personal finances, the general economy and whether they feel now is the right time to make major purchases, during interviews between March 16 and 27.

The results produced an overall negative score in the “consumer confidence barometer” from GfK of minus 34, indicating a sharp decline in confidence of 25 points from a score of minus nine in mid-March.

The 25-point tumble was the biggest fall in confidence since records started in January 1974.

The overall score of minus 34 is approaching the depths of negativity recorded by the index during the 2008 economic downturn.

Confidence decreased on all measures within the index.

Joe Staton, GfK’s client strategy director, said: “Our Covid-19 ‘flash report’ shows a dramatic result with consumer confidence falling off the cliff in the last two weeks of March.

“The last time we saw such a decline was during the 2008 economic downturn.

“Our falling confidence in our personal financial situation and the wider economy reflects the new concern for many across the UK.

“Despite record grocery sales, and recent peaks for purchases of freezers, TVs and home office equipment as people prepared for a long period in the home, the major purchase index is down 50 points, a stark picture for some parts of the retail industry in the short to medium term.”

More than 2,000 people aged 16 and over were surveyed.