Consumers 'expect better economy'
More consumers think the UK economy will improve in the next year than those who think it will get worse, according to a poll by watchdog Which?
The positive figures are the first since the consumer group launched its Consumer Insight Tracker in July last year - but the optimism is not filtering through to household finances.
Concerns about rising food, fuel and energy prices are leading to one in three people, or 9.5 million households, cutting back on essentials, the latest figures suggest.
The survey found that 36% of consumers believe the economy will get better in the next 12 months compared with 29% who think it will get worse.
The proportion of consumers rating the economy as good is at 13%, the highest since July last year when the figure was 6%, while the current figure for those rating it as poor is 59%, the lowest since the same time last year.
But the top consumer worries remain unchanged, with 81% concerned about fuel, followed by energy prices (79%) and food prices (73%).
Almost a third of consumers (31%) are still finding it difficult or very difficult on their current household income and 20% remain worried about their job security.
According to the poll, 36% of consumers are cutting back on essential household spending compared with 25% in July last year. More than a quarter (28%) have dipped into savings to cover this month's spending and 21% have used an authorised overdraft facility in the last month compared with 17% last July.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "While this surge of optimism shows that consumers are feeling more positive about the future of the economy, it isn't filtering through to how people feel about their own personal financial situation.
"The recent heatwave and the arrival of a royal baby may have contributed to the public mood but there is still no let-up for the millions of squeezed households who are struggling to get by. Unless things improve, we won't see the all important rise in consumer spending that is so vital to the UK's economic recovery."