Costs and job worries hold back consumer confidence

Nia Williams

November 4, 2011

The latest GB Consumer Confidence Survey from Nielsen and the British Retail Consortium does show the overall Consumer Confidence Index was up one point in Q3 compared with Q2. But, with unemployment reaching a 17-year high, the proportion of consumers thinking job prospects for Britain will be negative over the next year worsened by 3% to 76%.

Increasing utility bills were the biggest or second biggest concern for 32% of GB respondents, followed by the economy (28%) and job security (22%).The worry over each of these has intensified since Q2.

On the positive side, the Q3 GB survey suggests British shoppers are adapting better to the realities of the economic downturn. The number of consumers now feeling negative about the state of their personal finances is at its lowest level for more than a year (58%).

The proportion worried about debt is down (four points to 14%) on the previous quarter, while the proportion saying they have ‘no spare cash’ has eased for the first time in 18 months (from 32 to 25%). And the proportion of British consumers feeling negative about their ability and willingness to spend has eased 4% since Q2 (to 68%).

Nielsen managing director for UK & Ireland, Chris Morley, comments: “Consumer confidence stabilised in Q3, but the high cost of petrol and energy bills continues to put pressure on already squeezed shopper budgets.

“Shoppers are remaining cautious and managing what they spend more closely, and this is leading some supermarkets to experience volume declines.

“But not all shoppers are feeling the downturn in the same way. One in four reports having to cope with having no spare cash, which suggests the downturn is impacting some people more than others.”

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: “There’s not much to be cheerful about here. Consumer confidence has barely improved on the previous quarter and is still lower than at any time last year. Even though this week’s figures show the economy growing by 0.5%, 86% of people believe we are still in recession and only 11% think that will change in the next twelve months.”

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