Consumer confidence holds steady amid Brexit chaos

British consumers’ confidence stayed at -13 in March but the latest figures from GfK still point to a nation that is spending less and saving more.

Consumer confidence held steady in March despite growing uncertainty and confusion about a political solution to the Britain’s exit from the European Union and what impact that may have on the economy and consumers.

According to GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index, overall confidence stayed at the same level in March compared with the previous month at -13. And people’s perceptions of their personal financial situation over the past 12 months has held steady at a score of zero, although this is down from +3 a year ago.

People are slightly more optimistic about their personal finances over the next 12 months, with the forecast increasing by one point to +2 compared to February, although this is eight points lower than in March 2018.

It is a similar situation for the general economic situation. While the figure for the past 12 months holds steady, expectations for the general economic situation of the country over the next 12 months have improved, up two points to -36 but still 14 points lower than the same time last year.

However, it is clear that consumers are being more careful with their spending and looking to hold on to their cash.

The major purchase index, which registers likelihood to make a big purchase such as furniture or electrical goods, decreased four points to +1, while the savings index, which indicates people’s intentions to save, increased two points to +20. This is seven points higher than in March 2018.

“The truth is that consumers won’t change how they feel until the real world delivers an outcome on Brexit, and right now consumers are taking a dim view of economic prospects,” says Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK.

“People are waiting for a clear decision, a clear way forward. Meanwhile, our savings index is showing that the inclination to squirrel money away is creeping upwards. It was at -15 in August 2016 (meaning saving money was not a priority) but in this month’s data our savings measure stands at +20. That’s a big change. Do consumers see rainy days ahead?”

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