Consumer confidence falls with election looming

Posted by Michael Bolt in Personal Finance on 7 May 2015 - Michael worked as a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile until 2015

Consumer confidence fell last month for the first time since December, according to the results of a new survey.

Research conducted by the polling organisation, YouGov, and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, shows that consumer confidence fell in April to 113.1 on their Consumer Confidence Index. This represents a decrease from March’s figure of 113.9 and is more than a percentage point lower than consumer confidence was this time last year, when the index was 114.2.

The figures come ahead of the General Election on 7th May 2015, perhaps in part affected by worries over the outcome of the election and the future direction the economy will take. The fall in the Consumer Confidence Index comes on the back of figures released by the ONS (Office of National Statistics) showing that economic growth had decreased in the first quarter of 2015 to 0.3% from 0.6% at the end of 2014.

YouGov’s survey also found that households’ financial situations have improved since the last election in 2010, although there is some ambiguity of the degree to which they have improved. Peoples’ situations have arguably got notably ‘less worse’ - rather than them improving radically.

The number of households saying that their financial situations have got better has risen from 8% in April 2010 to 11% in April 2015. Over the same time period, the number of people stating that their household financial situation has got worse also fell from 29% to 18% - meaning that more people feel that they are worse off, rather than better off.

The survey also found that rising house prices have helped people feel more positive about the value of their properties, which has been a driver of an increase in consumer confidence in the past five years. The percentage of homeowners who think that the value of their property has gone up has increased to 29% in April 2015 from 21% in April 2010.

Stephen Harmston, of YouGov, argued that while households’ financial situations have strengthened, they have done so from very a very low starting point, stating that, “As the GDP figures slowdown, it is clear that consumers still feel as though the recovery is fragile and that many of them are not feeling it in their wallets”.

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