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Mon 28th Jan 2019 - UK consumer confidence drops to 18-month low with spending continuing to slow
UK consumer confidence drops to 18-month low with spending continuing to slow: UK consumer confidence dropped to an 18-month low in the last quarter of 2018 with spending expected to continue to slow, according to the latest Deloitte Consumer Tracker. Confidence fell two percentage points in the period to minus 9%. Despite a period of falling inflation, a rise in real wages and unemployment at historic lows, it was not enough to offset consumer uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Confidence was down year-on-year across five of the six measures used to calculate the Deloitte confidence index. The fall in confidence was most pronounced in sentiment around levels of disposable income and job security (down four percentage points each). Quarter-on-quarter comparisons reveal confidence was also down across five of the six measures, with only confidence in debt levels remaining flat. Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart said: “Recent data in the form of record employment, higher earnings and falling inflation are great news for UK consumers. But consumers are more focused on Brexit worries at home and clouds gathering over the global economy. Work may be easier to find than for decades and pay may be rising, but today’s decline in confidence shows consumers’ spirits are heavily influenced by expectations.” The Deloitte Consumer Tracker also revealed an increase in net spending on both essentials and discretionary categories, increasing three and four percentage points respectively compared with the previous quarter. Ben Perkins, head of consumer research, said: “Although quarterly spending for essentials and discretionary items increased, the fall in overall confidence resulted in more muted spending growth than expected during the ‘golden’ quarter in the run up to Christmas. It seems consumers are anticipating bad times ahead despite the backdrop of positive macro-economic data. Notably, spending fell across certain essential categories such as housing or transport and on big-ticket items such as electrical goods and furniture. Consumers have entered 2019 in a cautious mood. As a result, we expect spending to continue to slow, especially in the big-ticket discretionary categories.”

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