Consumer confidence hits 18-month high

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The Independent Online

Consumer confidence is now at its highest level for 18 months, figures from the British Retail Consortium will reveal today, despite continued nervousness amongst many people about the prospect of losing their jobs.

The BRC’s rmontly consumer confidence index, researched by market analyst Nielsen, is now at 75, some 10 points higher than at the beginning of October. While the index suggests confidence still lags the levels seen two or three years ago, the BRC said the improvement would encourage retailers and other businesses dependent on consumer spending.

“These figures suggest it will be a long, slow climb out of recession for many customers but some do now have their feet on the first rung of the ladder,” said British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson. “There’s no question the general mood of customers is better than a year ago, when conditions were dire, but improvement has been slow so far.”

The main worry holding back confidence continues to be the fact that unemployment continues to rise. More than three-quarters of consumers still believe job prospects ar “bad” or “not so good”, anxiety which is likely to weigh on consumer spending.

Justin Sargent, managing director at Nielsen, said: “This latest poll shows that the confidence of the nation continues to improve, though consumers remain very guarded and we are still a long way from the confidence levels we saw prior to the economic meltdown.”

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