Confidence of UK consumers falls towards post-Brexit vote low

November 29, 2016 7:09 PM EST

A shopper browses items at a Sainsbury's store in London, Britain, October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo


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LONDON, (Reuters) - Confidence among British consumers fell in November to its lowest level since just after voters decided in June to leave the European Union as worries about the economy grew, a survey showed on Wednesday.

Market research firm GfK said its gauge of consumer confidence slipped to -8 in November from -3 in October.

That was weaker than a median forecast of -4 in a Reuters poll of economists and the index's lowest level since July when it touched -12.

"The slump across the board this month points to continuing uncertainty about the state of the economy among consumers," Joe Staton, head of market dynamics at GfK, said.

The index measuring major purchases fell to 5 from 14 in October, also touching its lowest level since July.

"This will be an acute concern for retailers as they

gear-up for the key Christmas selling period," Staton said.

"Many are saying that fears about the British economy have been overstated, but time will tell if the pessimism shown in the Index is misplaced or not."

Recent economic data has shown that consumers did not rein in their spending after the Brexit vote. But that resilience faces a test in 2017 when inflation is expected to rise sharply, hurting spending power.

The European Commission's consumer sentiment survey on Tuesday showed the biggest increase on record for its gauge of British consumer price expectations in the next 12 months, which dates back to 1985.

A separate survey by pensions firms Scottish Friendly showed over half of households are worried about rising food prices and more than four in 10 are anxious about petrol prices.

And another survey commissioned by Lloyds Bank showed overall business confidence among companies fell by five points in November, while a measure of optimism about the economy hit a three-month low.

But confidence in business prospects hit a 10-month high.

"Our November survey shows a small decline in overall confidence but the results as a whole, are consistent with solid economic growth continuing in the fourth quarter," Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said.

The GfK survey of 2,039 people was conducted between Nov. 1 and 15. The Scottish Friendly survey of 2,000 people was carried out in October. The Lloyds survey of around 200 companies with turnover above 1 million pounds was conduced between Nov. 2-9.

(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce)



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