BRC survey finds majority of consumers believe the UK is still in recession
Although the survey found that consumer confidence was up one point in Q3 compared with Q2, the proportion of consumers thinking job prospects for Britain will be negative over the next year worsened three percentage points to 76%.
The survey, which was established in 2005, tracks consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among 28,000 internet consumers in 56 countries.
The BRC said increasing utility bills were the biggest or second biggest concern for 32% of UK respondents in the Q3 survey, followed by the economy (28%) and job security (22%).
On a positive note, the BRC said the Q3 results suggested that British shoppers are adapting better to the realities of the economic downturn. The number of consumers now feeling negative about the state of their personal finances is at its lowest level for more than a year (58%). The proportion worried about debt is down four points to 14% on the previous quarter, while the proportion saying they have ‘no spare cash' has eased for the first time in 18 months (from 32% to 25%). The proportion of British consumers feeling negative about their ability and willingness to spend has eased 4% since Q2 to 68%.
Commenting on the figures, Nielsen managing director for UK & Ireland, Chris Morley, said: "Consumer confidence stabilised in Q3, but the high cost of petrol and energy bills continues to put pressure on already squeezed shopper budgets.
"Shoppers are remaining cautious and managing what they spend more closely, and this is leading some supermarkets to experience volume declines.
"But not all shoppers are feeling the downturn in the same way. One in four reports having to cope with having no spare cash, which suggests the downturn is impacting some people more than others.
"Overall, most shoppers remain fickle and are shifting spend towards retailers that offer the most immediate savings. But shoppers want more value - other than just cheap prices - so retailers trading purely on low price will only attract the most disloyal shoppers."
British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: "Consumer confidence has barely improved on the previous quarter and is still lower than at any time last year. Even though this week's figures show the economy growing by 0.5%, 8% of people believe we are still in recession and only 11% think that will change in the next twelve months.
"With jobs fears mounting and no relief in sight this year, retailers are braced for a difficult Christmas."
The global consumer confidence index fell one point to 88. Confidence also dropped one point in the US (77), China (104) and Germany (87).
The most optimistic countries were found in the Asia Pacific region with seven of the top 10 highest consumer confidence scores coming from this region. India (121) remained the most optimistic in Q3 while Hungary (37) was the least.
European nations were generally the most pessimistic with France down 13 to 56, Spain down four to 56, and Italy down three to 52.
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