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BRC consumer confidence index at all time low

UK consumer confidence has fallen to record lows, according to the latest consumer confidence survey from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen.

The consumer confidence index for Britain fell to 65 points in the poll, which was conducted between March 19 and April 2. This was down nine points from 74 in October, when the last survey took place.

The current figure is the lowest confidence rating since 2004 when the survey began. This time last year confidence was at 79. The highest recorded figure was 101 in spring 2006.

“Customers and retailers will go on suffering for a good while yet.”

Stephen Robertson, director general, British Retail Consortium

The fall in confidence has affected consumer spending with 47% of people surveyed saying now was “not a good time” to spend on things they want and need and 23% saying now was a “bad time” to spend. More people thought personal finances would be “not so good” (49%) or “bad” (17%) this year.

The BRC said the drop in confidence was driven by job instability.

Some 86% of people polled felt “negatively” about their job prospects over the next 12 months and 42% thought job prospects were “bad” for the coming year, up from 23% in October.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: “This survey suggests the economy’s climb back to growth will be harder and slower than the Government claims. Only 13% of people believe we’ll be out of the recession by this time next year. Six months ago nearly one in five thought the recession would be over by this Christmas. Customers and retailers will go on suffering for a good while yet.”

The majority of people (35%) said they planned to save any disposable income, followed by spending on holidays (30%), although both these figures are down, which indicated people are reducing their total spend. The number of people who said they had no spare cash was 24%, up from 21% six months ago.

Justin Sargent, managing director of Nielsen UK, said, “Many people have now had some sort of first hand experience of job losses…With such concerns and little hope of pay increases for many of those in employment, we would expect confidence in personal finances and the impetus to spend to suffer as well.”   

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