Belfast Telegraph

Consumer confidence in sharpest decline since 2009, survey reveals

By Margaret Canning

Confidence fell sharply in the UK's powerhouse services sector during the three months to August, research said today.

Sentiment in consumer businesses such as restaurants, hotels and leisure companies fell at its sharpest rate since 2009 - even though business volumes were up, according to the CBI service sector survey.

In the CBI's first services survey since the vote to leave the EU, confidence for business and professional services firms fell at its fastest pace since November 2011.

And business expansion in professional services - which includes accountancy and legal firms - was the weakest in 16 months.

However, employment growth in both sub-sectors remained above average, and was at the strongest level this year in consumer services.

And plans for investment in the year ahead returned to long-term averages after a strong start to 2016.

Anna Leach, CBI head of economic analysis and surveys, said: "While the service sector has been rocked by the stormy waters of Brexit, especially when it comes to firms' sense of optimism, the actual slowdown in growth on the office and shop floor has been relatively modest.

"It's encouraging that employment numbers have remained robust, especially in the consumer services sector.

"But looking ahead, the service sector faces a challenging environment in which to grow and invest, with uncertainty about demand weighing on firms' minds.

"To shore up confidence across the economy, the Government must clearly communicate plans for negotiations to leave the EU.

"The Government must also demonstrate its commitment to stimulating growth and driving investment with an ambitious Autumn Statement."

Belfast Telegraph