“It’s much worse here than in the US,” one business analyst from across the pond told me this week when we were discussing consumer confidence.
Just great isn’t it? This virus of a credit crunch was passed on to us by our cousins in the US with their shaky sub-prime mortgages and we appear to be suffering much worse symptoms. I suppose the old adage that the US sneezes and we catch a cold could be true then.
Some depressing research from the British Retail Consortium and market research firm Nielsen appears to back our American friend’s hunch. Their Consumer Confidence Index, which rates people’s feelings towards job prospects, personal finances and spending intentions, now stands at a score of 79, compared with 91 at this time last year.
This is the lowest score since the survey began in 2003, which has led some this week to suggest that consumer confidence in the UK is at an all-time low.
Admittedly, people feeling the worst they have felt about their finances for five years is bad from whichever angle you decide to look at it. But since this survey is a relatively recent development in the history of retail, we can’t say for sure that people haven’t ever felt worse – for example during a large part of the 1970s.
And yet I’m still not convinced the Americans have a lot more to be happier about than we do, especially with petrol prices soaring in a country full of people who drive everywhere.
Maybe consumer confidence just feels worse here as we’re better at talking ourselves into a slump than they are? If only some of their optimism would rub off on us as effectively as their credit crunch symptoms.
Lauretta Roberts Editor