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Omicron dents consumer confidence – GfK

Consumer confidence has eased, a closely-watched survey published on Friday showed, hit by the emergence of the Omicron variant and the rising cost of living.
The GfK consumer confidence index eased one point to -15 in December. Within that, expectations for the general economic situation over the coming year also fell one point, to -24, while the major purchase index lost three points to -6.

Expectations for personal finances over the next 12 months were also lower, with the index losing one point to 1.

The only two measures to rise were for the economic and personal finances situation over the last 12 months, which rose by one and two points respectively.

Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: “News about the Omicron variant could not have arrived at a worse time for festive celebrations.

“While the holiday season has not yet been hijacked, December’s headline score has slipped and the lack of Yuletide cheer is evident.”

Staton said that the fall in the forward-looking indices was driven by concerns about the “soaring cost of living, with the prospect of looming interest rate rises piling on more pressure”.

He concluded: “We needed 2021 om a depressing note and it looks like it will be a bleak midwinter for UK consumer confidence possibly with new Covid curbs and little likelihood of any real uplift in the first months of 2022.”

The survey was conducted among a sample of 2,000 individuals aged 16 and over between 1 and 13 December.

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