Brexit uncertainty could be weighing on consumer optimism

Chris Papadopoullos
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Consumers have become more concerned over the UK’s economic outlook, according to new survey data released this morning.

The confidence index produced by market researchers GFK remained at a score of zero in March. It is equal to February’s score of zero which was the lowest since 2014.

Yet the index remains high by historical levels – it has spent most of the last eight years in negative territory.

Read more: Economists warn of tough times ahead for UK consumers

A separate gauge of confidence produced by pollsters YouGov and the Centre of Economics and Business Research has levelled off. It scored 113 in March, up slightly from 112.9 the month before.

While consumers are still upbeat on house prices – expecting them to go up – YouGov’s data shows they are more pessimistic on business activity in their workplace over the next year.

GFK’s research showed that confidence on the economy over the next 12 months had fallen by 18 points since March last year. However, consumers were more upbeat on their personal finances.

“Are we seeing Brexit jitters at work now? Whilst UK consumers remain resolutely upbeat about their personal financial situation, concerns about prospects for the general economic situation continue to dampen our mood,” said GFK head of market dynamics Joe Staton.

Read more: Eurozone consumer confidence dips to 13-month low

“There are significant question marks over the sustainability of the current recovery, especially if there are any knocks to the housing market which has played a significant role in supporting consumer confidence,” said head of YouGov Stephen Harmston.

CEBR director Scott Corfe, said: “This is an uncertain time for the UK economy. Consumer confidence is being propped up by rising house prices and low inflation, but the deteriorating business environment paints a worrying picture of underlying economic strength.

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