Rapid vaccine launches and a brighter outlook for the economy have raised consumer confidence in the UK to its highest level in nearly a year.
The UK Consumer Confidence Index rose 5 points as a measure of how people view their personal finances and the broader economic outlook, hitting an 11-month high, minus 23 in February. According to data released on Friday by research firm GfK.
The uptrend, based on data collected during the first twelve days of February, was stronger than the consensus prediction of a slight rise to minus 27 in an economist survey conducted by Reuters.
Sentiment improvement has sparked hope that consumer spending will rebound significantly. Joe Staton, head of customer strategy at GfK, said the headline credibility score rose with 14 points for next year’s economic outlook, leading to a “talk about normalization.”
He said it was particularly encouraging that the consumer’s view of the personal financial situation rose by two points. This is because it leads to consumption and “will promote the economy after the pandemic”. The rise in credibility was also supported by a five-point increase in consumer views on whether it was a good time to make a major purchase.
The index is calculated as the difference between the rate reporting improvement and the rate reporting deterioration.
Consumer spending was the driving force behind a strong economic rebound in the third quarter, and the expected rebound is expected to fuel GDP growth from spring.
According to recent official data, household deposits at the end of December increased by 10% compared to the same month last year. This figure suggests that there is a significant amount of money that could flow into the economy if consumers are confident enough about their income to cut their savings.
When predicting economic and inflationary growth, ING economist James Smith said much will depend on consumer spending. But he was “a bit suspicious” that there was “repressed demand waiting to be released if the economy continues to resume.” .
But Michael Saunders, an external member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee, urged caution on Thursday, warning that high savings levels could be concentrated in high-income groups, limiting consumer-led recovery.
“During the epidemic, total household savings increased significantly. [but] Overall, more people report that savings decreased instead of increasing,” he said in a speech to the Resolution Foundation think tank.
The increase in household savings “is concentrated at the top of the income scale and doesn’t represent the experience of many,” he added.
The latest experimental data released by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday showed that consumer spending fell by nearly 30% in the week ending February 11. This is a bigger decline than the previous November’s closure.
Spending in the’delayable’ category, which includes clothing and furniture, and the’social’ category, which includes bars and restaurants, has halved compared to last February, and is likely to rebound when the economy resumes.
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