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Consumer confidence sees May improvement

Confidence among UK consumers edged up in May, but is still lower than a year earlier.

GfK’s Confidence Barometer Index rose from -13 in April to -10, but compares with -7 in May 2018.

The Major Purchase index rose from -1 to 1, the same as in 2018.

The Personal Financial Situation over the past 12 months index rose from -1 to 3, compared with 1 in 2018.

The Personal Financial Situation over the next 12 months index rose from 0 to 5, but is still lower than the 8 registered in 2018.

The General Economic Situation over the past 12 months index was flat at -30, six point lower than in 2018.

The General Economic Situation over the next 12 months index rose from -34 to -29, still lower than the -21 seen in 2018.

‘Despite a backdrop of Brexit-related change and complexity, and price rises for most household bills in April, consumers have managed a seasonal spring in their step with a three-point uptick in consumer confidence this month,’ says Joe Staton, GfK client strategy director.

‘Although the overall index score is still bumping along in negative territory, we’re seeing stronger positives in measures about how consumers view their personal financial situation – a key metric impacting day-to-day spending. This is coupled with a less negative view of the general financial situation across the UK in the coming year.

‘With the Government forecasting an economy showing modest growth, where inflation is under control, unemployment is at multi-decade lows and the employment rate is at a record level, perhaps this sunnier picture is to be expected? But before we see a leap back into the brighter positive numbers last seen in January 2016, consumers will need to be convinced in heart, head and wallet that Brexit’s murkiness has finally come to an end. And there are potentially dark clouds on the horizon with the next EU deadline of 31 October.’