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UK consumer confidence stays low says GfK

Published
today Nov 29, 2019
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UK consumer confidence remains at a low level as the Christmas shopping season really gets under way and the latest figures from GfK mark nearly four years since consumer confidence was in positive territory.


UK consumers are feeling gloomy this month



GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index’s overall figure was unchanged at -14 for November compared to October, but it's actually one point worse than November last year. 

This came as people viewed the measure for their personal financial situations over the last 12 months in a fairly bleak light. That figure for November was at zero, worse than the +1 of a month ago, although interestingly it's better than the -3 of this time last year.

And as far as their personal financial situations over the 12 months ahead are concerned, consumers seem to be fairly pessimistic. A year ago the reading was +3, but last month and this month have managed only +1.

Consumer views of the general economic situation in the last 12 months remain even bleaker. A year ago this figure was -29 and a month ago it was -33. And November 2019? Down to -34. For the next 12 months it doesn't look any brighter either. This time last year it was -32 and at the moment it's -34, although it's interesting that in October it was at an even worse -37.

Consumers aren't in the frame of mind to make any major purchases despite this being the year’s biggest shopping season. In November 2018 they were even less so with a reading of -3. But this November’s higher reading of zero isn't exactly encouraging, and it's lower than the +1 of a month ago.

Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director at GfK, said: “In the face of Brexit and election uncertainty, consumers are clearly in a ‘wait-and-see’ mode. The general election is potentially an opportunity to move us out of the doldrums – but for this to happen there must be a clear result. A hung parliament could be very damaging for consumer confidence and would surely deepen the obvious malaise that we see month after month. 

“We have not seen a positive headline score since January 2016 – that’s nearly four years ago. Uncertainty is nobody’s friend. So, while many issues are under the spotlight in this election, political parties will need to satisfy voters that they will be effective for the wider economy and that, as a consequence, people will be better off next year and beyond. Consumers need to be convinced they will be able to balance their personal accounts beyond ‘just about managing’. Fantasy economics alone will not guarantee votes.”

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