Brexit uncertainty hits consumer confidence, report shows

Consumer confidence tumbled in November as shoppers dropped plans for spending amid intensifying Brexit uncertainty, figures show.

GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index fell by three points to negative 13 as concerns about household finances, the general economy and spending intentions grew.

The major purchase index, an indicator of consumer confidence in spending on big ticket items, saw the sharpest drop of seven points in a concerning turn for struggling retailers.

Consumer confidence graph

Confidence in the general economy for the coming 12 months fell four points to negative 32 – four points lower than this time last year – as did the perception of personal finances over the past year to negative three.

Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: “Against a backdrop of the Chancellor telling everyone that the Brexit deal on the table will make people worse off, this month we’re recording an across-the-board fall for all measures with concerns over household finances, the general economy and purchase intentions.

“Overall, we are now back at the 13 level we saw at the end of last year. The next few weeks are highly unlikely to inject any festive cheer, especially if Theresa May’s Brexit deal doesn’t win backing from MPs.

“The denouement to more than two years of bewildering Brexit wheeler-dealing looks like it will be enacted precisely when many consumers would prefer to be thinking of a well-earned Christmas break, filled with family get-togethers, warmth and festivity.

“Brexit appears to be turning this year’s season of goodwill into the season of uncertainty.”