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Confidence rises as unemployment falls

Consumer confidence is booming on the back of falling unemployment levels, rising household finances and optimism that inflation is under control, according to a survey published yesterday, writes Michael Harrison.

The latest quarterly consumer bulletin from Business Strategies, compiled before yesterday's quarter-point hike in rates, shows a significant rise in levels of optimism compared with both the July survey and figures from a year ago.

David Fell, director of Business Strategies, said that consumers in most regions expected household finances to improve over the next year and high street spending to increase as worries over unemployment recede.

The survey shows that optimism is highest in Wales, Yorkshire, and Humberside, London and Northern Ireland.

Consumers in the North, East Anglia and East Midlands were not so optimistic but the difference between the top and bottom regions was not great, Mr Fell added. "Consumers are feeling pretty good almost everywhere."

The balance of those feeling optimistic as opposed to pessimistic about the economic outlook is 23 per cent against 16 per cent in the last quarterly survey was made in the summer.