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Press release
Consumer Insights|Trends and Forecasting|United Kingdom|English

Consumer confidence holds steady at -13 in March

29.03.2019

But nagging fears for the economy persist

GfK's long-running Consumer Confidence Index stayed at the same level in March. Two measures increased, two stayed at the same level and one measure decreased in March.

Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director at GfK, says: 

“Consumer confidence has held steady this month at minus -13, despite political chaos and ensuing uncertainty as we try to find our rightful place within Europe. Against a backdrop of stable inflation and a robust labour market, where wages continue to grow more quickly than prices, confidence has remained negative but fairly stable since the Referendum. However, while UK consumers report a small increase in optimism for their personal financial situation for the coming year, the index is being dragged down by our nagging fears for the general economy. Things might change when people feel the current crisis has passed but what sort of resolution can consumers reasonably contemplate just now? Or are consumers rightly sensing a bumpier economic climate for post-Brexit Britain?”

UK Consumer Confidence Measures – March 2019

The Overall Index Score in March 2019 is -13; two measures increased, two stayed at the same level and one measure decreased

Personal Financial Situation 

The index measuring changes in personal finances during the last 12 months has stayed the same this month at 0; this is three points lower than March 2018.

The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months has increased one point to +2 this month; this is eight points lower than March 2018. 

General Economic Situation 

The measure for the general economic situation of the country during the last 12 months has stayed the same at -33 this month; this is seven points lower than March 2018.  

Expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months have increased two points to -36; this is 14 points lower than March 2018.   

Major Purchase Index 

The major purchase index decreased four points in March 2019 to +1; this is one  point lower than March 2018.    

Savings Index 

The savings index has increased two points in March to +20; this is seven points higher than at this time last year.

Download the full set of charts for the GfK Consumer Confidence Barometer UK - March 2019

GfK Consumer Confidence UK - index table for March 2019

GfK Consumer Confidence UK - index trend Jan 2006 to March 2019

The UK Consumer Confidence Barometer is conducted by GfK on behalf of the EU, with similar surveys being conducted in each European country. In producing its own reports on the whole of Europe, the EU applies a seasonal adjustment to the data, to smooth out any changes that are functions, at least in part, of the time of year.

Historically, the UK data have not been seasonally adjusted in this way, and to maintain comparability, GfK continues not to apply this adjustment. This can lead to situations where the EU figures show different movements in a particular month from those produced by GfK. Individual months may be affected, but the long-term trend is not.

The UK Consumer Confidence Survey from GfK was conducted among a sample of 2,001 individuals aged 16+ on behalf of the European Commission.

Quotas are imposed on age, sex, region and social class to ensure the final sample is representative of the UK population. 

Interviewing was carried out during 1st – 14th March 2019.

The figures contained within the Consumer Confidence Barometer have an estimated margin of error of +/-2%.

Results for the Consumer Confidence Barometer are normally available on the last working day of each month at 00.01am (unless the final working day of a month is a Monday, in which case the results are published on the Friday preceding the final working day). The release date for April is Tuesday 30th April 2019.

Any published material requires a reference to both GfK and the European Commission e.g. ‘Research carried out by GfK on behalf of the European Commission’.

This study has been running since 1974. Back data is available from 1996.  

The table below provides an overview of the questions asked to obtain the individual index measures:   

Personal Financial Situation (Q1/Q2) This index is based on the following questions to consumers: ‘How has the financial situation of your household changed over the last 12 months?’ ‘How do you expect the financial position of your household to change over the next 12 months?’ (a lot better – a little better – stay(ed) the same – a little worse – a lot worse)

General Economic Situation (Q3/Q4) This index is based on the following questions to consumers: ‘How do you expect the general economic situation in this country to develop over the next 12 months?’ ‘How do you expect the general economic situation in this country to develop over the next 12 months?’ (a lot better – a little better – stay(ed) the same – a little worse - a lot worse)

Major Purchase Index (Q8) This index is based on the following question to consumers: ‘In view of the general economic situation, do you think now is the right time for people to make major purchases such as furniture or electrical goods?’ (right time – neither right nor wrong time – wrong time)

Savings Index (Q10) This index is based on the following question to consumers: ‘In view of the general economic situation do you think now is?’ (a very good time to save – a fairly good time to save – not a good time to save – a very bad time to save) (Commented on but not included in the Index Score)

Joseph Staton  
 
General