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Consumer confidence edges up

UK consumer confidence edged up one percentage point to -8% in the first quarter of the year compared with the previous three months, new research has shown.

However, confidence is down by two percentage points compared with the same time last year, the latest Deloitte Consumer Tracker shows.

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, said: “The bounce in consumer sentiment comes against a backdrop of heightened uncertainty around Brexit during the survey period in late March. Consumers also faced headwinds from a slowing global economy while at home housing activity has softened and consumer credit is less easy to come by.

“Despite the deluge of bad news consumer confidence has held up, fuelled by rising real incomes, a buoyant jobs market and ultra-low mortgage costs. Earnings growth has now outstripped inflation for 13 consecutive months, while unemployment is at its lowest level since 1975. Mortgage rates remain close to all-time lows.

“The key question for the UK consumer is whether growing corporate nervousness will trigger a squeeze on pay and jobs in the second half of the year.”

The analysis is based on the response of more than 3,000 consumers in the UK between 23 and 26 March 2019.

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