World News

UK consumer confidence stuck near all-time low after COVID slump: GfK

LONDON (Reuters) – British consumer confidence held at its lowest since 2009 this month after tumbling in late March, as the country remained in coronavirus lockdown and on track for a deep recession, a survey showed on Friday.

GfK, a polling firm, said its consumer confidence index held at -34 during the April 1-14 survey period, unchanged from the last survey for March 16-27 but still down very sharply from -9 earlier that month.

“It is impossible to say if this is at the bottom after weeks of adjustment to the reality of lockdown life, or if further falls are to come,” GfK’s client strategy director Joe Staton said.

Bank of England policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said on Thursday that Britain looked on course for its biggest fall in economic output since a catastrophic period of freezing weather more than three hundred years earlier.

The previous GfK survey showed the biggest fall in more than 45 years which took the index to its lowest level since February 2009, during the depths of the global financial crisis.

The survey is only five points away from a record low of -39 seen in July 2008.

A measure of personal financial expectations for the year ahead rose from the previous survey two weeks ago but perceptions of how the economy has performed over the past 12 months fell.

A gauge of households’ willingness to make major purchases held steady.

GfK conducted the survey of 2,000 people on behalf of the European Commission.

Companies are just as alarmed about the impact of coronavirus and the government’s lockdown of much of the economy to contain it.

On Thursday, a widely watched measure of business activity hit a record low and confidence among manufacturers was the weakest since records began in the 1950s.

(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)