UK consumer confidence highest in four years

<p>People in the UK are more optimistic about their finances than they have been since records began in 2011.</p>

Brits are more upbeat about their finances than they have been in at least four years, research has indicated.

According to the latest data from Deloitte's consumer tracker, UK consumer confidence for the three months to September was at its highest level since records began in 2011. 

Low inflation and rising pay packets during the third quarter meant that many households were less concerned about market turmoil over the summer.

The survey, which measures six criteria including job opportunities, career progression and perceptions about debt, showed positive results in all areas compared to the previous quarter.

Some 3,000 households were polled for the research and they indicated that the market turbulence in August – when £74 billion was wiped off the FTSE 100 in a single day due to worries about the Chinese economy – had been brushed aside.

Deloitte said that record employment and stronger wage growth led to people spending more money on eating out and leisure activities. Many also felt optimistic about their job prospects in the coming months.

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte explained: "UK consumers seem unperturbed by financial market and emerging economy weakness that have dampened sentiment in the corporate sector. For consumers the good news on rising real wages and improving job security trump the bad news from the global economy."

He also noted that consumers are saving less now than at any time in the last five years and borrowing has been on the up throughout the year.

In September, inflation as measured by the consumer prices index fell into negative numbers. It is expected to remain close to zero for the rest of the year. This will also benefit consumer confidence for the rest of the year, Mr Stewart explained.

"Rising real incomes, more borrowing and lower levels of saving give UK consumers the wherewithal to keep spending. Household expenditure is set to remain the engine of UK growth over the next year," he said.

BRC research

Deloitte's findings are backed up by a separate survey from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). That research indicated the recent slump in UK high street shoppers eased in September.

Footfall in September fell by 0.2 per cent compared with a year ago. This is an improvement on the 1.6 per cent fall in August. It's also above the three-month average of -0.9 per cent.

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