UK consumer confidence continues to struggle
UK consumer confidence continued to struggle in January, a widely-watched survey showed on Friday, dragged down by concerns about the strength of the economy.
The latest GfK Consumer Confidence Index eased two points in January, to -28, with respondents worrying about both their own finances and the wider economy.
Of the six measures used to calculate the overall index, expectations for the general economic situation for the next 12 months fell nine points to -44, or by 20 points year-on-year.
The index forecasting individuals’ personal financial situation for the next 12 months also eased, though by just one point month-on-month, to +2, a four-point decline on January 2020.
The Major Purchase Index was lower by two points month-on-month, at -24, but the Savings Index rose by a point, to 18 in January, two points down on the same month a year previously.
Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: “Despite the widespread anticipation of a return to normal with the ramp up of the vaccination programme, it is too early to deliver a jolt in the arm to UK consumer confidence. Our view of the general economic situation still makes for grim reading.”
However, Staton added: “The real key is how we view our personal financial situation for the next 12 months. Confidence in this figure reflects our financial hope and fears, as well as those of our families and loved ones, and it seems to be holding up.
“That’s just as well, because amid widespread uncertainty over jobs and livelihoods, any decline in how we see our personal finances in the year to come would be a clear warning that the economic outlook will not improve any time soon.”
The government began the roll-out of the UK Covid-19 vaccination programme in December, raising hopes that the end may be in sight for the pandemic. However, since then stay-at-home restrictions have been once again ramped up, including closing schools, after infection rates soared.
Concerns also remain that a number of government measures introduced to provide support during the pandemic, such as the furlough scheme and stamp duty holiday, are scheduled to end in the coming weeks.
The GfK survey was conducted among a sample of 2,002 individuals aged 16 and over between 4 and 13 January.