Global slowdown fails to curb UK consumer confidence
Consumer confidence in the UK remained "resiliently bullish" in January despite concerns about the global slowdown and its possible effects on the British economy.
Market research firm GfK also revealed that, during 2015, consumer confidence had remained positive throughout the calendar year – the first time this has happened since the index was started in 1974.
The firm's barometer of consumer sentiment showed a reading of 4 in January, an increase of two points on December. However, GfK said that next month's figures be "interesting reading" because of the difficult start to the year on stock markets across the world.
The firm said that January's index had been given a boost by shoppers hunting for post-Christmas bargains with the measure of those agreeing that now was 'a good time to buy' jumping nine points. Britons were also more confident over their personal finances than a year earlier, with a reading of 4, up one point on last month and six points higher than in January 2015.
While expectations for personal finances over the year ahead also remain strong, the barometer showed continuing concerns over the UK economy as a whole, with optimism for the next 12 months increasing just one point from December but remaining four points lower than in January last year.
Even so, the measure of those contemplating making a major purchase in the coming months increased nine points to 16, some 11 points higher than a year ago.
Joe Staton, head of market dynamics at GfK, commented, "UK consumers remain resiliently bullish this month with no sign of the January Blues denting their view on the state of their personal finances for both the past year and also for the rest of 2016.
"However, despite some gains this month on the general economic situation for the UK – looking back and looking forward – consumers remain pessimistic with these two components of the index still in negative territory.
"February's barometer will make for interesting reading given the rocky start to global markets this year and the impact on prospects for the year ahead."
Meanwhile, consumer confidence research by YouGov/CEBR showed a "cautiously optimistic" picture. Scott Corfe, director at CEBR, said, "The recent stutters in financial markets have not yet dented overall consumer confidence. People seem to have adopted a "wait and see" approach to their own personal financial situations."
However, Stephen Harmston, head of YouGov reports, warned that the rise in consumer confidence was largely hinged on the rising property market. "Should the forecast economic slowdown affect the property sector in the UK in coming year, we could see the whole situation change for the worse rapidly," he said.
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