The sixth quarterly UK consumer trends survey from the Consumers’ Association shows a slight dip in general consumer confidence over the last three months.
Nevertheless, consumers are showing increased confidence in terms of income and spending. It is the most confident they have been since the survey began in January 1999 about real incomes, and spending on non-essential items for the coming 12 months.
Seventy per cent of consumers are either “very” or “fairly” confident about the prospects for their household’s financial circumstances over the next 12 months and 11% are either “ not very” or “not at all” confident.
Overall, the quarterly consumer trends index for October is +35*; indicating that on the whole, consumers are somewhat optimistic about the coming 12 months.
Consumers are still expecting house prices to rise over the coming year - but they expect them to rise more slowly than over the last 12 months. However, concerns about taking on debt have shown a slight increase generally this year compared with last year.
Other key findings:
• consumer optimism about their household’s real income prospects has increased over the past three months and is now at its highest level since the survey began in January 1999. Thirty-four per cent expect it to increase compared to the cost of living over the coming 12 months.
• consumers are expecting to increase their future spending on non-essential items more now than at any time since the survey began. Thirty-four per cent of consumers expect their spending on non-essential items to increase over the coming 12 months.
• consumers anticipate no change in prices over the coming 12 months compared with the previous 12 months.
• on average, homeowners are expecting the value of their properties to increase by 3.7% over the coming 12 months, which is up from 3.2% in July. Optimism about future property values had been falling over the previous six months since rising consistently since the survey began.
• confidence in the future value of investments - such as shares, unit trusts, PEPs, ISAs and pension fund holdings - has fallen a little during 2000, although it remains higher than at any time during 1999.
• 52% of consumers report they would be “very worried” about taking on more debt. While this proportion has not changed over the past three months it remains higher than levels during 1999.
Sheila McKechnie, director of Consumers’ Association, said: “The results of the quarterly consumer trends survey show that although consumers’ confidence has fallen slightly, consumers remain optimistic about their incomes and spending. However, there are high levels of concern about debt, and this will be monitored.”
The quarterly consumer trends is based on face-to-face interviews with 1,650 households in Scotland, England and Wales conducted by IPSOS-RSL for Consumers’ Association between 6 and 12 October 2000.
* The Quarterly Consumer Trends Index would equal +100 (positive) if all consumers were “very confident” about their prospects for the coming 12 months and -100 (negative) if all consumers were “not at all confident”.