Consumer confidence ‘stoic’ amid uncertainty, figures show

Consumer confidence has remained resolutely stoic amid intensifying uncertainty around Brexit, with no sign of the significant drop seen immediately after the 2016 referendum, a survey suggests.

GfK’s long-running consumer confidence index increased by one point in February to minus 13 in a “frankly amazing” result amid political turmoil as Brexit approaches.

Confidence in the general economic situation of the country over the next year increased by one point, albeit to minus 38, 12 points lower than February last year.

GfK Consumer Confidence Index
GfK Consumer Confidence Index

The major purchase index, a measure of confidence in spending on big-ticket items, rose three points to positive five, five points higher than last year.

The savings index also registered a four-point increase to positive 18, six points higher than 12 months ago.

Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: “Despite a slowdown in overall growth and concerns about the impact of Brexit uncertainty on the UK economy, topline consumer confidence is stable again this month.

“Although bumping along in negative territory, the overall index score is not showing any sign of making the dramatic drop seen after the June 2016 Brexit referendum or in the early days of the last financial downturn.

“Consumers are like markets, they respond to certainty and that’s in short supply just now. It is worth bearing in mind that many economic indicators – employment levels, wage growth – remain positive. But it is frankly amazing that confidence is so stoic and stable in a world of sharp political instability and fear of the unknown.”

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