Belfast Telegraph

Consumer confidence 'surprisingly stable' amid General Election and Brexit

Consumer confidence is "surprisingly stable" as the UK navigates the upcoming General Election and Brexit negotiations.

The closely watched GfK Consumer Confidence Index dropped one point to minus seven in April, with no evidence of the predicted post-Article 50 downturn.

Joe Staton, head of market dynamics at GfK, said: "In the face of widespread reports of rampant inflation, stagnating wages and anxiety over our borrowing binge, UK consumer confidence is surprisingly stable.

"Although the Overall Index Score remains in negative territory and has dipped this month, we have not seen any evidence of the predicted post-trigger downturn, despite high levels of concern about the general economic situation of the country.

"Consumers continue to remain positive about the state of their personal finances and even report that now is a good time to buy."

The figures showed a one point increase in the major purchase index to positive seven, two points higher than this time last year and an indication of consumer confidence in buying big ticket items.

However, the forecast for personal finances and for the general economic situation over the next 12 months both decreased by one point.

Mr Staton added: "Is this simply the calm before the storm? Is pre-Brexit economic turbulence yet to really batter households? That threat cannot be ruled out.

"But for the moment, consumer sentiment remains relatively buoyant as we enter our two-year window of renegotiation and navigate the run-up to the General Election."

The survey comes as retailers report faster-than-expected growth in sales volumes, according to the CBI Distributive Trades Survey of 112 firms.

Some 59% of retailers said sales volumes were up in April on a year ago while 21% said they were down, giving a balance of positive 38% - the highest figure since September 2015's 49%.

However the CBI's findings contrast sharply with the Office for National Statistics, which last week reported that retail sales have recorded their biggest fall for seven years in the three months to March as rising living costs ate into household spending.

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