Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director at GfK, says:
“Despite a slowdown in overall growth and concerns about the impact of Brexit uncertainty on the UK economy, topline consumer confidence is stable again this month.
"Although bumping along in negative territory, the Overall Index Score is not showing any sign of making the dramatic drop seen after the June 2016 Brexit Referendum or in the early days of the last financial downturn.
"While the view on personal finances looking at the year to come is still marginally positive, the continuing depressed sentiment towards the general economic situation might point towards the calm before the storm of post-Brexit headwinds and potential negative economic outcomes.
"Are we on the edge of some kind of economic or livelihood precipice? Consumers are like markets, they respond to certainty and that’s in short supply just now. It is worth bearing in mind that many economic indicators (employment levels, wage growth) remain positive. But it is frankly amazing that confidence is so stoic and stable in a world of sharp political instability and fear of the unknown.”
The Overall Index Score in February 2019 is -13; three measures increased and two stayed at the same level.
The index measuring changes in personal finances during the last 12 months has stayed the same this month at 0; this is also the same as this time last year.
The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months has stayed the same at +1 this month; this is four points lower than February 2018.
The measure for the general economic situation of the country during the last 12 months has increased two points to -33 this month; this is four points lower than February 2018.
Expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months have increased one point to -38; this is 12 points lower than February 2018.
The major purchase index increased three points in February 2019 to +5; this is five points higher than February 2018.
The savings index has increased four points in February to +18; this is six points higher than at this time last year.
Download the full set of charts for the GfK Consumer Confidence Barometer UK - February 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 2,003 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 February 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 March is Friday 29th March 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.
Below is 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 think the general economic situation in this country has changed over the last 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)