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Consumer confidence improves for third month in a row in February – report

By Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

Consumer confidence has increased for the third month in a row, although sentiment overall remains negative, according to an index.

GfK’s UK consumer confidence index, which regularly asks people how they feel about their own finances and the wider economy, increased by two points in February.

However the overall confidence score was still in negative territory, at minus seven – an improvement from minus nine in January and minus 11 in December 2019.

A year ago, the reading was more downbeat, with an overall score of minus 13 recorded in February 2019.

Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: “Against a February backdrop of rising wages and house prices, low unemployment and stable inflation, we report another healthy uptick in consumer confidence this month – the third monthly increase in a row.

“The rise in the overall index score is driven by our increasingly positive view on the state of the UK’s general economy for both the past and the next 12 months.”

He highlighted a five-point jump in the part of the index covering major purchases, with the reading on this measure moving up from one in January to six in February. This is one point higher than a year ago, when it stood at five in February 2019.

Mr Staton said the confidence boost in making big purchases “reflects the recent rebound in retail sales, as widely reported”.

He continued: “Although the index remains south of positive, the trajectory remains upwards.

“The only ‘known unknown’ is the potential impact of coronavirus on behaviour, confidence and spending patterns. This is a developing story, watch this space.”

More than 2,000 people were surveyed between February 3 and 14 for the latest index.