Consumer confidence levels slightly improved during the month of September, rising one point as shoppers defy Brexit worries and price rises by dipping into their savings.
The overall score on the GfK consumer confidence barometer now sits at -9. The rise of one point was driven by increases in the major purchases index and the measures for the perception of the general economic situation.
Despite the overall uptick however, the picture across individual measures was more mixed. “Consumers appear to be in a mixed mood – with some confidence measures up and others down – yet there’s a strong note of defiance,” said Joe Staton, head of market dynamics at GfK. “Confidence in personal finances, both looking back and ahead a year, has slipped this month but retail sales in the UK continue to grow despite non-food prices increasing at their highest rate for 25 years.”
Staton also noted that consumers had continued to spend, despite predictions that high inflation and weak wage growth, as well as rising prices would deter shopping. He noted that UK consumers have “repeatedly defied predictions of a downturn since last year’s Brexit vote, partly by running down savings and/or borrowing more […] It’s live now, pay later. This defiant consumer mood seems to be the ‘new normal’. But how long can it last?”
This index follows figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and polling company YouGov, which also showed a slight increase in confidence, with the index rising to 108.6 points in September – up from 107.7 in August and the highest level since March.