UK consumer confidence edged above pre-pandemic levels in July for the first time, research showed on Friday.
According to the latest GfK Consumer Confidence Barometer, the overall index score improved two points in July to -7, beating the -9 recorded in March 2020 prior to the first national lockdown. It was also an improvement on the -9 noted in June and in May 2021.
Consumer confidence has now held firm or improved for six consecutive months.
Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: “Personal finance expectations for the next year remain strong and there’s a dramatic jump this month in our major purchase sub-measure, with shoppers agreeing that now is the right time to buy.
“The healthy seven-point rise aligns with strong retail growth figures, that reflect the gradual unlocking of the UK high street and release of pent-up demand as Brits hit shops, restaurants and venues.
“However, threats from increasing consumer price inflation, Covid variants and rising infection figures, and the looming end of the Job Retention Scheme could put the brakes on this rebound.”
GfK said that expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months had eased three points month-on-month to -5, while expectations for the personal financial situation over the next 12 months remained unchanged at 11. The major purchase index jumped seven points to 2.
Staton added: “What happens across the remaining summer months will frame consumer confidence for the rest of 2021 and beyond.”