Consumer confidence in February improves as vaccine rollout continues

Consumer confidence in February improves as vaccine rollout continues
// Consumer confidence rises by 5 points to -23 in February
// 4 measures used to determine overall index increased in comparison to January while one measure was flat
// Personal finance situation grew to 4 points while sentiments around the economy jumped 14 points

Consumer confidence has risen in February as the Covid-19 vaccination programme continues at pace and people feel more optimistic about prospects for the economy.

GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index increased by five points to -23, but the research firm said this was still not enough to “spring back to life”.

Consumer confidence was -28 in January and -7 in February last year, right before the Covid-19 crisis escalated into a global pandemic.

The overall index takes into account how consumers feel about their own financial situation and savings as well as the wider economy, and the four measures used to determine this increased in comparison to January while one measure was flat.

The part of the index measuring how people feel about their financial situation over the next 12 months moved further into positive territory, from a score of 2 in January to 4 in February.

This is just two points lower than a score of six recorded on this measure in February 2020, the month before the UK coronavirus lockdowns started.

Looking at how people feel about the general economy over the next 12 months, the score moved from -44 in January to a less negative reading of -30 in February – a 14 point jump. A year ago – the score on this measure was -21.

Attitudes towards making major purchases improved by five points to -19 in February.

However, this is still 25 points lower than February 2020, when the score was in positive territory, at 6.

Strong feelings that now is a good time to save also remain, with a score of 19 in February, up by one point compared with January and very close to a score of 20 recorded in February last year.

“It would be tempting to talk of a return to ‘normality’. But would it be more realistic to talk of ‘challenges’?” GfK client strategy director Joe Staton said.

“We need to be cautious because the positive tailwinds of the vaccination roll-out are being met by the very strong headwinds of unemployment, the threat of inflation and the difficulty that many face in affording day-to-day living costs – all serious issues that can dampen consumer confidence.”

Staton added: “Perhaps the key lies in the healthier score for how we see our personal finances going forward as this will impact our spending plans that in turn will fuel the post-pandemic economy.

“That measure is up two points and is reinforced by an encouraging five-point boost for major purchase intentions.

“But will that confidence in our wallets continue through the balance of the lockdown and beyond?”

The index was based on a survey of 2000 people across the UK in February.

with PA Wires

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