Consumer confidence edges up unexpectedly ahead of general election

Consumer confidence increased to a four-month high in May despite pre-election and Brexit uncertainty.

The GfK Consumer Confidence Index was up by two points to minus five, ahead of expectations.

Joe Staton, head of Market Dynamics at GfK said: “We have an unexpected uptick in the barometer this month as consumers report increased confidence in their personal financial situation, the wider economy, and future plans for shopping and saving.

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“Despite life becoming more expensive with inflation hitting its highest level in four years, and wages dropping in real terms for the first time in three years, stagnant living standards haven’t yet significantly dented consumers’ spirits – when it comes to retail therapy we remain happy to splash the cash as sales jump ahead of expectations,” he continued.

Although the overall Index score is bumping along in negative territory, Gfk said it has not seen any significant fall of the kind we might expect during such periods of pre-election and pre-Brexit uncertainty.

However, Staton warned that the “real squeeze” in living standards may be “yet to hit home”.

“After years of people paying off debts post-downturn, unsecured borrowing has steadily increased since 2014 reaching record highs this month. When will we get our comeuppance and realise we have to ‘pay-thepiper’?,” he said.

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