Consumer confidence falls sharply in wake of Brexit vote

Middle earners have suffered the biggest setback the survey found
Middle earners have suffered the biggest setback the survey found

Consumer confidence has seen its sharpest drop in more than 20 years since the Brexit vote, with a third of shoppers believing prices will increase rapidly in the next year.

Some 60% of consumers expect the general economic situation to worsen in the next 12 months, up from 46% in June, while just 20% expect it to improve, down from 27% last month, a one-off GfK Consumer Confidence Barometer survey taken after the referendum found.

The proportion of people who believe prices will increase rapidly in the next 12 months has jumped 20 percentage points from 13% to 33%.

The core index has fallen eight points to minus 9, and all key measures used to calculate it have fallen.

The survey, dating from 1974, has not seen a sharper drop since December 1994.

GfK head of market dynamics Joe Staton said: “During this period of uncertainty we’ve seen a very significant drop in confidence, as is clear from the fact that every one of our key measures has fallen, with the biggest decrease occurring in the outlook for the general economic situation in the next 12 months.”

The poll revealed distinct regional differences with confidence dropping 19 points in the north of England and 11 points in Scotland.

In the south, including London, there has been a two point drop.

Confidence among 16 to 29-year-olds has dropped 13 points, but the group remains the most optimistic of all age groups.

The biggest dip in confidence from a household income perspective is among those earning between £25,000 and £49,999, who registered a 16 point drop.

Meanwhile, figures released by BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) show the Brexit vote had an immediate impact on the high street, which suffered its worst June in more than 10 years.

A strong start saw overall sales grow 3.8% year-on-year in the first week, but the ‘Brexit effect’ hit retailers with increasing severity as the month wore on.

Sales saw a 3.1% drop in week two and by the end - two days after the Brexit vote - overall year-on-year sales had plummeted 8.1%.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, said; “Many retailers may have hedged against the falling pound for the short term, but if sterling stays at these levels, the cost of importing goods and further erosion to margin may need to be passed onto the consumer.”