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Consumer confidence falls for first time in a year

Consumer confidence has fallen for the first time in a year, according to figures from Nielsen and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The confidence index fell two points to 78 in the last three months - the first fall since April 2009. Confidence levels had previously made a slow but steady improvement over the previous four quarters. However, BRC director general Stephen Robertson pointed out that consumer confidence is still “well up” on last year.

The survey found that 82% of people believe the country is still in recession and 39%, up from 27% in March, cite the economy as their first or second biggest concern. The focus on the country’s economic situation during the election campaign in April and early May is likely to have driven this increase.

Nielsen Consumer UK & Ireland group managing director Justin Sargent said: “Many economists have talked about a ‘double dip’ recession and the results of this survey would suggest we are at a crucial point in the consumer’s mind. “

A further 46% of people believe that it is a ‘not so good’ time to be spending and 19% of people believe that now is a ‘bad’ time to buy the things they want and need, up from 16% in March.

Robertson said: “British consumer confidence is below the global average, suggesting we’re more unsure about future recovery than other countries. But, though confidence has fallen recently, it’s well up on this time last year and retail sales have proved reasonably resilient. The impending VAT increase will encourage some customers to buy this side of January.”

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