Consumer confidence rallies despite squeeze on household finances

Alys Key
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Shoppers spent more on essentials as household budgets were squeezed (Source: Getty)

Consumer confidence in the UK has risen for the first time this year, buoyed by positive sentiments around employment.

Consumer confidence was up three points to a negative reading of seven, according to a survey released today by accountants Deloitte.

This marked the first rise since the same quarter in 2016.

Read more: Consumer spending fell again in September

"The rebound in consumer confidence testifies to the resilience of the UK consumer in the face of surging inflation, Brexit uncertainties and the prospect of a higher interest rate," said Deloitte's chief economist Ian Stewart.

But he added that there was no guarantee that this marked the beginning of an upward trend, given extra pressures faced by consumers such as the shrinking of disposable income and tightening of lending conditions by banks.

Optimism was higher in five of the six key indicators used by Deloitte, including job prospects and security, and career progression.

Despite a squeeze on consumer purse strings, discretionary spending rose three points to minus four per cent, while essentials spending jumped to 11 per cent.

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Confidence in levels of disposable income also improved slightly, climbing to a negative reading of 21 per cent from minus 24 per cent.

Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte, commented: "As we enter the crucial trading quarter for the industry, retailers should expect to see further signs of spending shifting towards essentials such as groceries, utilities and housing over the next three months."

Read more: Low interest rates and high public spending drag down productivity

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