British consumers see no negatives from Brexit despite rising economy fears

 
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A record proportion of Brits are confident about big-ticket purchases (Source: Getty)

Brexit did not stop British consumer confidence from growing over the past year, despite the economy topping a list of concerns for future prospects, according to a new poll.

British consumer confidence at the end of 2016 was marginally higher than a year earlier and far ahead of European average, according to pollsters Nielsen.

More than half of consumers felt confident in making big-ticket purchases, its highest level since the survey began in 2005. Demand for larger items is traditionally particularly vulnerable to economic or political fears.

Read more: Consumer confidence is rising, but signs point to low spending in 2017

The UK score was a point above the global index average of 101 and the much weaker index score of 81 in Europe. A reading above 100 indicates optimistic sentiment.

The findings reflect the UK’s economic performance over the course of 2016, with GDP growth supported by strong consumer spending despite political chaos after the EU referendum vote.

The sustained spending strength prompted the Bank of England to dramatically upgrade the UK’s growth prospects for this year, with only a 0.2 per cent decline in growth now expected despite the lower value of sterling.

Meanwhile the US saw a huge 17-point surge in consumer confidence during the last three months of the year, as the election of President Donald Trump continues to motivate consumers and professional investors alike.

Read more: Looking rosy: UK's economic prospects reach a year high

Steve Smith, managing director of Nielsen UK and Ireland, said: “Times generally remain good for British consumers, with strong employment and wage growth that rose slightly ahead of price inflation during the last year.”

He added: “Disposable income remains stable, while tax benefits for the lower paid and a rise in the minimum wage have reduced income inequality. As a result, consumer spend continued to be the engine of UK GDP growth in 2016.”

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